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J.J. Watt now focused on greatness

Tuesday, September 02, 2014
HOUSTON -- Texans defensive end J.J. Watt caught himself to keep away tears as he spoke about a phone conversation with his parents Monday night. They reminisced about his little league days and just how far he'd come since then.

"It's a big deal," Watt said. "It was just cool to think about, we were talking about little league football, hockey, the days playing football with my brothers in the front yard, high school football. Some of the people that told you that you can't do it and some of the people who told you you can do it. Teachers, my elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, coaches. The support system that I've had and the people that have surrounded me and helped me get to where I am today, is why I'm here."

The reminiscence came just after Watt agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension that made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

"Money doesn't motivate me, greatness does," Watt said. "... I'm so fortunate I don't have to worry about the money, so I can focus on the greatness."

Watt has been the league's most dominant defensive player since being drafted 11th overall in 2011. During that time he's led the NFL in disrupted dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The first-round draft pick in 2011 was the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2012. He leads the league with 31 sacks over the past two seasons.

As part of the 2011 draft class, Watt's rookie contract included a team option for a fifth year. The Texans picked up that option in May, which meant Watt was due $1.9 million in 2014 and $6.9 million in 2015.

Watt's new deal was agreed upon Monday night, concluding negotiations between agent Tom Condon and the Texans. Texans general manager Rick Smith said it was a rare instance when he agreed with nearly everything a player's agent said during negotiations.

The resulting contract includes $51.8 million in guarantees, part of which kicks in if he's still on the roster in the spring of 2016.

"We're just delighted that we were able to reach this agreement with J.J.," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "We normally wouldn't do this at this stage, but we just felt his performance had been so outstanding, his attitude so great, his work ethic, he's such a role model for everyone on our team that we felt that he deserves special consideration and that's why we agreed to look at this situation. And then when you look at his performance.

"In our view he's the best defensive player in the league, and we wanted him to be compensated that way and he is."

The team's vote of confidence motivates Watt.

"I hope the people of Houston don't mind me sticking around here a little longer, because I happen to like it here quite a bit," Watt said. "I promise to do everything in my power, to work extremely hard, to give everything I have to prove I deserve this, to prove that I've earned this."

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