Undoubtedly, there’s a weight and expectation that comes with not only becoming the highest paid defensive player in NFL history but the guy who broke the Pittsburgh Steelers’ business model. In his $80 million of fully guaranteed money, Watt broke tradition with how the Steelers payout contracts. But a guy in Watt, pressure is all he’s ever known. He’s ready for the challenge.
“I’ve been dealing with pressure my whole life,” Watt told a flock of reporters during a Friday press conference. “Everybody always asks me, “What’s it like to be the younger brother of X,Y,Z?” You know the answers to all of that. I’m built for this.”
Watt has been in the shadow of older brother JJ for most of his career. Now, he’s stepping out of it and as his brother enters the final few years of his career, the younger Watt has emerged as the game’s superstar. Although now the league’s highest paid defender, he doesn’t expect it to change the way he approaches the game.
“I truly believe that nothing monetary will change me as a person. The work that I put in will not change, it will only grow. Like I said in the beginning of this press conference, it’s my job to prove to all these people that have put this amount of money to me and stood on the table for me to say they want me here. That they’re right.”
A man of few words, Watt spoke for over 11 minutes today and displayed the same throwback, rent-due-every-day mentality embraced by his older brother.
“I know exactly what it takes. I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s about just continuing to do it and staying hungry. I guarantee everybody here right now and everybody in this building, I am still hungry.”
As we wrote about earlier, Watt’s focus shifts solely towards winning a Super Bowl. Even after just four years in the league, he’s done almost everything else. Made Pro Bowls, All-Pros, had big seasons, got paid. There’s no DPOY Award on his mantle (though there should be) but beyond that, postseason success is all that’s left.
Watt and the Steelers will look to continue that mission this season. Pittsburgh’s EDGE group is one of the strongest units of the team. Along with Watt, one of the game’s most feared pass rushers, Alex Highsmith is poised for a breakout second year while Melvin Ingram was one of the team’s biggest acquisitions of the offseason.