Even though he barely contributed on the field last season, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt made a substantial enough impact in the Houston community to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year alongside Astros second-baseman Jose Altuve. Watt did that by raising more than $37 million in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So, it should come as no surprise to hear that Watt has, once again, made an impact away from the field.
According to the Associated Press, Watt donated $10,000 to a GoFundMe campaign that is aiming to support the family of a Wisconsin firefighter who was killed in an explosion from a natural gas leak. Sun Prairie Fire Department Capt. Cory Barr, who was 34, is survived by his wife and three-year-old twin daughters. As of 4:10 p.m ET on Thursday, the GoFundeMe, which has a $75,000 goal, has raised $130,745.
On Wednesday, a woman asked Watt, who is from Wisconsin and played college ball at Wisconsin, to contribute on Twitter.
@JJWatt please do what you can for Cory Barr's family. He was very well known, liked & appreciated in the Sun Prairie community. He was brave and a true hero! Any & all support from one fellow fire fighter family to another! #RIPCaptCoryBarr #firefamily https://t.co/oEE9aCNPqW— Jenna Blaser (@jennnn_bunny) July 11, 2018
Sure enough, Watt's name appeared on the page shortly after.
You know why @JJWatt is awesome? Because he does stuff like this. #SunPrairieStrong pic.twitter.com/PhvrEycT11— Mike Jocko Jacques (@jockosports) July 11, 2018
Watt, meanwhile, continues to work his way back from a tibial plateau fracture, which ended his 2017 season in October. In January, Watt began running again and he's expected to be ready for training camp later this month. Texans coach Bill O'Brien recently indicated that there's nothing to worry about.
"When I see him every day, he's in here early, stays late," O'Brien told NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" in May. "He's doing a lot of great things both on and off the field relative to being able to be back and ready to go. Obviously, we're not going to rush any of our injured guys. Those guys are right on schedule. J.J.'s doing a great job with his rehab. I see him every single day. I've said this time and time again, this is a guy that's one of the best players to ever play the game.
"I would never bet against J.J Watt. He's going to be back, he's going to be at full strength and he's going to help us win a lot of games."
From 2012-15, Watt racked up an NFL-best 69 sacks and established himself as the league's top defensive player. But over the past two seasons, injuries have limited him to eight games and 1.5 sacks. Overcoming injuries might just be the theme of the Texans' upcoming season. In addition to Watt, key contributors like quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Whitney Mercilus are working their way back from significant injuries.
If their stars do return at full strength, the Texans might just find a way to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC South.