There hasn't been much talk about J.J. Watt since the Texans defensive superstar was placed on injured reserve earlier in the year. 2016 became a lost season for the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, thanks to multiple surgeries during the offseason and leading up to the start of the year.
In an article titled "Am I Done?" on the Players' Tribune that came out Tuesday, Watt revealed the extent of his physical issues and also admitted that he'd previously contemplated retirement while battling physical maladies.
Watt wrote openly about his 2015 season and the litany of problems he faced:
As we drove through my hometown, I thought about everything that had happened over the past year.
One broken hand.
One staph infection.
Two torn abs.
Three torn adductor muscles.
One herniated disc. (Twice).
That was my 2015 season. Believe it or not, the scariest was probably the staph infection.
One Friday night last season, I noticed some weird bumps on my knee. I thought it was a rash, so I went and asked our trainer if he had any cream.
He looked at my knee and said, "That looks really bad. We have to get you to the hospital right now."
According to doctors, the result could have been devastating if the trainer didn't catch it fast enough:
if our trainer hadn't recognized the problem so quickly, I could have lost my leg.
Watt went through last season, with the Texans winning the AFC South and making the playoffs before being blown out by the Chiefs in the first round. He writes that his "body was a mess" afterwards.
Then the surgeries started to happen. Watt had January surgery to fix his abductors and abs, followed by back surgery on a herniated disk in June. He admits he probably pushed himself to get back in time for the season and that his body didn't appreciate the move, which resulted in another surgery in September, which resulted in him heading to injured reserve.
And that's when the doubt started to creep in about the long-term viability of his body playing football.
Some people started to wonder if I was done.
There was a time when I genuinely wondered, "Am I done?"
I didn't feel like myself. I had never even had one major surgery before, much less three in one year. To have the game taken away from me three times -- each time left to wonder if I would ever be the same again -- that was hard. That was the first time the word retirement had ever crept into my head.
That's not an unreasonable thing to have happen. Even for someone who is already one of the most impressive defensive players we've ever seen, if you're struggling with health and have had multiple surgeries and can't get right, you might start to question your future.
Watt writes, interestingly, that the time off has helped him to recharge.
Since that last surgery, I've spent the past two months recovering back in Wisconsin. Not allowed to play football, not allowed to train, not allowed to do anything more than walk. There were no interviews, no social media, no commercials, no appearances, no anything.
The gist of this recovery time is he's managed to remember what life is like without football. That takes the doubt and flips it into motivation -- having football taken away is terrifying. And being home, Watt says, helped him to realize how much he loves the game.
Ultimately he got back to his roots, got back to the reason why he loves the game and no, J.J. Watt will not be retiring.
The kid in me is back.
Am I done?
I'm just getting started.
Look, that's pretty classic Watt to write that. It's a little cheesy but plenty motivated. The months off is going to do a world of good for his body, which means when he comes back he should be 100 percent healthy (or very close to it).
If you can parlay the odds of Watt winning Comeback Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, it would be a pretty good idea to throw something on that.