Will T.J. Watt be any easier to pull off the football field than older brother J.J.? It was at least partially a health scare that helped coax the older Watt brother into retirement at age 33. T.J. is set to play in his age-30 season in 2024, however, so how much longer does he have left? Watt himself has questioned it. His position coach, however, does not—and he had better hope so for his own sake.

“That guy there, man, I don’t ever see him stopping”, outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin said of Watt during minicamp, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Football lovers like him, I just don’t ever see it. I don’t know when it’s gonna stop. His love for football would have to die. And y’all know him like I do. That ain’t dying”.

T.J. Watt is a football junkie, without question. He has already talked about his desire to eventually get into high school coaching, staying close to the game. After all, he learned so much about the game through his older brothers. He has had the benefit of that feedback for his entire football life, and has been intoxicated by the sport.

A first-round draft pick in 2017, T.J. Watt is widely regarded as one of the best football players today. Over seven seasons, he has 96.5 sacks with 401 tackles, 107 tackles for loss, 198 hits, 27 forced fumbles, seven interceptions, and 24 passes defensed. He is a former Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and is a perennial finalist—perennial snub, some argue.

While he is an annual guest on the Pro Bowl list, one thing he has not achieved is playoff success. The Steelers know that going winless in the postseason during Watt’s tenure is a disgrace. He himself is not happy about it, and it drives him—but it’s not him alone, as Martin points out.

“It’s not something that he’s out there saying. Everybody wants it, you know what I mean? It stems from everybody”, Martin said when asked about Watt’s drive to break his winless postseason streak. “Everybody wants to win in the playoffs. It’s not something we’re trying not to do. It’s something that we’re always constantly thinking about, every day. It’s something we’ve got to do. We know we need postseason success, and that’s what we’re gonna keep working towards”.

The Steelers have made the postseason four times in the seven years since drafting Watt. They are 0-4 during that time, including a Divisional Round loss during his rookie season in 2017. Since then, they have lost in the Wild Card Round in 2020, 2021, and 2023. Watt did not participate in the most recent loss due to injury. In his last postseason game, he recorded a sack and returned a fumble for a touchdown.

J.J. Watt never got to taste the thrill of a championship, and one wonders if he would have retired earlier if he had. Aaron Donald is now retired after playing through his age-32 season, having won the Super Bowl. But T.J. Watt hasn’t even experienced a single postseason win. How long will he play to get that taste in his mouth? Perhaps more importantly, how long will he have to play for that?


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