J.J. Watt’s 2017 season may have ended after just five games because of injury but his contributions to the greater Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey proved to be more important than any tackle, sack or forced fumble in his Hall of Fame career.
The Texans defensive end helped raise $37 million to help rebuild Houston and parts of southeast Texas following Harvey’s devastation, and his efforts earned him Walter Payton Man of the Year honors in February. And on Thursday, Watt was named to the Time list of the 100 most influential people.
“Every few years, a professional athlete touches the heart and soul of a city in a way that has nothing to do with athleticism,” Houston mayor Sylvester Turner wrote in Time. “Such is the case with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, who is a star on and off the field.
“Hurricane Harvey was a historic storm that dumped more than 50 inches of rain, damaged more than 300,000 homes and shattered lives. As Houston’s mayor, I led the response and resiliency efforts. But government can’t do everything for everyone. J.J. tackled Harvey’s destruction the same way he obliterates his opponents on the football field. He raised more than $37 million for hurricane recovery and delivered water, food and supplies to storm victims. In the process, he lifted the spirits of all Houstonians.