Most people don’t relish the thought of lining up against Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. In fact, most people would probably swim in a pool full of alligators before facing down the presumptive NFL defensive most valuable player.
But then again, students from Newtown, CT., have seen much worse than a burly dude in eye-black eyeballing the quarterback.
As it happened, about 20 kids from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown were visiting Houston for the weekend and made a trip to the stadium. Watt took time out of his preparation for the pursuit of the single-season sacks record (he finished with 20.5) to bring the kids onto the field for a bit.
“I just kind of wanted to give them as normal a day as possible, just running around, having fun, going out on the field. We were kicking field goals. They were trying to put it through the uprights,” Watt told Mike Garafalo of USA Today. ”Just be kids. And to see them in a normal setting, having fun and big smiles on their faces was awesome.”
Watt hasn’t limited his involvement to kids, though. Also during the last week of the season, Watt visited families, hospitals, and policemen.
“My family was here over the weekend, but they had to leave on Sunday night, so I had to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by myself,” Watt told Garafalo. “So instead of just sitting in my house alone, I decided to go to Children’s Hospital and take them some gifts. My dad’s a firefighter, so I know what it’s like for policemen and firefighters to be on their own on Christmas Day. So I went and visited some fire stations and just told them thank you for what they do.
“I went and visited the Bellaire Police Department because an officer was shot and killed from their department on Christmas Eve, so I wanted to stop and drop off a pair of cleats for them to auction off for the family. And then went and visited some fans, some random fans. Instead of sitting in my house, I figured I might as well go spread some Christmas cheer. It was awesome. It was a great day.”
“…this was something I really enjoyed and I think it was so much fun because it truly showed me that giving is better than receiving.”
Although being a 4-year-old boy singing songs with Watt is constitutes receiving a pretty cool memory in anyone’s book.
“At Children’s Hospital, the first little boy I went in and saw, it was such a memorable experience,” Watt said. “I came in and we just hung out for a little bit. He just started singing songs. It was great to sing songs. He started singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ and we sang ‘Hakuna Matata’ together for about five or 10 minutes. It was such a special experience. Every experience was different and they were all awesome.”
Thank you, J.J. Watt, for remembering what’s important this holiday season. It’s not what you get, but what you give, that makes the biggest difference.