J.J. Watt, 27, is 6’5” and 290 pounds, with 34” arms and shoulders as wide as his summer cabin in Wisconsin. But when he’s not lifting weights or crushing quarterbacks, the Houston Texans D-lineman and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is a pretty stylish guy. We chased down Watt to talk about what he wears after he takes off his football pads for the offseason.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m athletic most of the time. When I do dress up I try to keep it clean cut. I don’t go terribly outlandish with it. I have before, but I’d say more recently I just try to keep it classy.
So you’re not going to wear the zebra-print pants Cam Newton wore on the flight to the Super Bowl?
I’m not sure you’re gonna catch me in zebra-print pants anytime soon. I think Russell Westbrook has changed the game a little bit, he’s made the outlandish outfit stylish. I won’t say never, but it’s fairly unlikely you’ll see me in zebra-print pants.
What kind of accessories do you wear? Sunglasses? Hats? Watches?
I do sunglasses from time to time. I casually wear hats every day, I like hats. I’m not a huge watch guy, not an accessory guy in general. I don’t really do all of the flashy stuff, I like to let the outfit speak for itself and let my self-confidence speak for itself.
How important is it for you to balance comfort with style?
It’s extremely important. When you’re on the road, you travel Saturday, you play a game Sunday, and then have to put the same clothes back on after the game. You don’t want something that’s going to wrinkle. You don’t want something that’s going to sweat through. You want something extremely comfortable that also looks good.
What type of shirts do you wear?
Mizzen+Main hits it on the head every single time. It’s perfect for what I need. I can throw it in my bag and it doesn’t wrinkle. I can wear it on the plane after a game. I don’t have to get it tailored, don’t have to get it dry-cleaned. It just made my life a lot easier.
Wait, you don’t get your shirts tailored? I would assume for a man your size that tailoring would be pretty important.
Tailoring for me is the only way I’d been able to go until Mizzen+Main. (Editor’s Note: Watt has ownership stake in the Dallas-based company.) Their 2XL Slim fits me perfectly. It’s crazy, because I buy almost nothing off of the rack. The ability for them to have my size is awesome.
You said you wear a 2XL Slim (XX-Large Trim Fit)?
Yeah, I was surprised at the slim myself, trust me.
You were under recruited out of high school, a two-star player. Now you’ve cemented yourself as a three-time NFL defensive player of the year. What advice would you give to kids with big dreams whose reality may not match those dreams right now?
It happened through hard work. It is a crazy story, to get to where I am now. It’s just daily commitment. There’s no magic pill, there’s no overnight success. There’s no one tip I can give to anyone. It’s just daily commitment to your goals. You have to have your big goal, but more important than that is, what are you going to do today to make that broad vision more possible? That’s the biggest thing that I tell people — what are you going to do today to make your dream come true? It sounds cliché and it is, but that’s the truth. Whatever you can do each minute of today to make your dream that much closer to being reality, that’s what it takes to be successful.
What’s your daily routine in the offseason? Walk me through a day. When do you get up? How many meals do you eat? What do you eat? What kind of exercise do you do?
I wake up probably at 6:30 every day. I eat breakfast, then I drive to the gym. I’m at the gym for probably three hours. I go home and eat lunch, generally either answer emails and do some business or take a nap after my morning workout and lunch. Then I will eat another meal and work out again. A lighter workout at the personal gym in my house. Then I’ll eat, answer emails or hang out with friends. Then I’m in bed by about 9:30, 10 o’clock at the latest in the offseason. That’s generally how my day goes, five days a week. Then there’s obviously the weekend and travel. There are times where I have business stuff that I travel for. For the most part when I’m here in Wisconsin that’s what my day looks like.
What do you typically eat for breakfast? Is it a big breakfast?
Breakfast is my biggest meal of the day. It’s my favorite meal of the day, I love breakfast. I load up on breakfast. Today I ate oatmeal, eggs, banana, apple, orange, milk, orange juice, water. I had wheat toast, one with peanut butter and one with seedless blackberry jam. That was my breakfast. My breakfast is generally around 1,500 calories a day.
Do you have any dietary restrictions you go by? Do you eat red meat? What’s your philosophy as far as feeding the fire?
I eat red meat. I know what my body needs and I’m not crazy about checking every single label and measuring everything out. I do understand how to eat properly and I understand what my body needs. If it’s something I normally eat, I’ll find the healthiest version of it out there. If it’s oatmeal, find the healthiest version of oatmeal out there and make sure that I get that. Same with milk, or for bread I go out there and find the healthiest whole wheat grain bread. I just try to make sure the stuff I’m eating is quality. Like pasta, I eat whole wheat pasta. Just making sure that I eat the best quality that I can. It takes a lot of food to fuel an athlete’s body, so I make sure I get enough. You have to make sure you get enough and get it at the right times. Then the little things like hydration, sleep and stretching. They’re boring and that’s why they’re often overlooked. Those are the things that can really make a difference for an athlete.
What’s an underrated exercise?
I think the things that are underrated are the boring things. I think rolling out every single day, hydrating properly is very underrated. I think sleep is very underrated, as well. Those are the things I tell my brothers, kids that ask me for advice, or even teammates. Training is extremely important, and there are things I can tell you about training, but outside of training is what I’ll tell people. Things like rolling out, stretching, sleeping and hydrating are the most important things you can do.
You mentioned recently that you would like to coach high school football when you retire. Tell me about that…
Definitely. My high school football coach had a profound impact on my life and my career. I still talk to him all the time. I want to have that impact on somebody’s life. I don’t really have an interest in coaching at any level higher than that. I like the high school level, I think you can mold young minds at that age. You can help kids reach their dreams, whether it’s football or not. Whatever it may be. I think you can help motivate and teach those kids morals and values that can help them far beyond the football field. That’s what I’d like to do.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
I just want to do whatever I possibly can to help my team be successful. Every single day. Whether that’s being a leader or an outstanding personal performance, however I can help my team be successful that’s what I want to do.
Is there anything you’re adding to your game or focusing on this offseason?
This offseason is all about recovery and getting back from my injuries. Back to where I was and then above that level. It’s been going really well so far. It’s more about watching my film, and understanding my game and how I can improve that. It’s not necessarily adding things, it’s understanding what you do well and need to continue to do, then what you need to improve upon. I don’t think there’s one specific thing I’m adding, it’s more understanding how to utilize my game more successfully.
Are there any all-time greats or even current players whose film you watch?
Over the course of my career I’ve watched a bunch of the all-time greats. Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Deacon Jones and guys like that. L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) and Howie Long, a bunch of greats that came before me. You try and find the bits and pieces of their games that they do best and piece them all together. You got Howie Long’s rip, Reggie’s everything, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, stuff like that. You try to find guys that were really successful at one thing and try to add all of those things to your game.
What about opponents? Is there anyone who gives you trouble or is particularly challenging one-on-one?
Everybody in this league is challenging. Every single day. That’s why a sack is so special because it’s so darn hard to get. Everybody is good in this league. The difference between good, great and the best in this league is so small. Every week is a challenge, every guy you face is a challenge. I wouldn’t be able to say one guy is harder than the other, every guy in this league is hard to beat. Doesn’t matter who you’re going against, that’s why it’s so special when you do have success.