Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt comes up short for top defensive honor. He and his brothers aren't happy.
That was one of the trending topics on Twitter Saturday night after Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, the Pewaukee native and former Wisconsin Badgers star, did not collect his first AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award during the virtual NFL Honors show. He finished second to the Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald, a year after taking third.
Count his NFL brothers, who always show their support for each other on social media, as feeling the same way.
J.J. Watt, T.J.'s oldest brother who has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards as a defensive end for the Houston Texans, was looking to welcome his youngest brother into the club.
He showed his dissatisfaction with the vote by tweeting out a chart comparing his brother's 2020 stats with Donald's. Donald is now tied with J.J. as one of three players in NFL history — DPOY was first awarded in 1971 — to win three DPOY trophies. J.J. won the award in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Donald previously won in 2017 and 2018.
In his fourth season, T.J. led the league in sacks (15), quarterback hits (41) and tackles for loss (23) in 15 games for the AFC North champion Steelers. The 26-year-old T.J. won the Deacon Jones Award, which honors the NFL's sack leader. He also had two forced fumbles a year after he had eight.
Donald was second with 13.5 sacks, fourth in quarterback hits (28) and sixth in tackles for loss (14). He had four forced fumbles. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Donald led the league in pass rush win rate as an interior defensive linemen even though he was double-teamed at the third-highest rate in the league.
Donald won the award with 27 votes. T.J. had 20. Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard finished a distant third with three.
Derek Watt, in his first year as T.J.'s teammate in Pittsburgh, simply used an angry emoji to show his displeasure.
And what could be frightening to NFL offenses is what T.J. posted on his social media accounts. On Twitter and Instagram, he posted a meme of Michael Jordan that read ".. and I took that personally."
J.J. commented on T.J.'s Instagram post, saying "this offseason's workouts are about to be legendary."
The Watt brothers all train together in the offseason at NX Level in Waukesha.
T.J.'s former high school coach in Pewaukee also took to Twitter during the NFL Honors show to state his disagreement with the vote.
Clay Iverson, who coached all three Watt brothers at Pewaukee, including T.J. on varsity his sophomore and junior seasons, said he's biased but "@_TJWatt should 100% be NFL DPOY"
Iverson, now the head football coach at Sun Prairie, told the Journal Sentinel this week he felt T.J.'s mindset would remain the same whether he won the award or not.
"The sky’s the limit," Iverson said of T.J.'s potential. "He’s already a top player. Your potential is raised by your level of work and T.J. will keep improving no matter if he wins or not, just knowing how he operates."
When asked about T.J.'s future based on his current pace through four years (he set a Steelers sack record and is in the top 10 all time through four years), Iverson said "I wouldn’t put a cap on him, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against him. His No. 1 goal is to keep improving. And that’s a scary thing."
Two of T.J.'s teammates also spoke out on social media regarding the vote.
Rodgers wins third MVP, announces engagement
The awards show also had Green Bay Packers fans talking. Aaron Rodgers won his third MVP, and had his own trending moment when he casually announced during his virtual acceptance speech that he got engaged this year. Former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson was also selected to the Hall of Fame.