J.J. Watt was inducted into the Houston Texans’ Ring of Honor on Sunday, bringing the defensive end back to the place where he became a superstar.
“I’m back with all my family,” Watt said. “It feels like home. I just love it.”
Watt became the third person to be put in the Ring of Honor during the halftime ceremony, joining receiver Andre Johnson and the late Bob McNair, who founded the team. Watt was joined by wife Kealia, 11-month-old son Koa, his parents, and brother Derek Watt for the event.
His other brother T.J. Watt was also in the building, but didn’t take part in the event because he was playing for the Steelers, who were beaten, 30-6, by the Texans. But T.J. Watt did congratulate his big brother in a pre-recorded video played on the stadium big screens after his induction.
Team owners Janice McNair, her son Cal McNair, his wife Hannah McNair, and Johnson joined the Watt family on the field for the ceremony.
“I know how proud dad would be … and I want you to know how much it means for our whole family to celebrate you today,” Cal McNair said. “You are one of the most dominant players in NFL history and the bond you created with our family, fans and all of Houston is irreplaceable. Congratulations.”
Watt, a first-round draft pick in 2011, spent 10 seasons with the Texans, earning three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards during that stretch. Watt holds franchise records for sacks (101), tackles for losses (172), quarterback hits (281), and forced fumbles (25).
The 34-year-old Watt spent two seasons in Arizona before retiring at the end of last season.
“Over the last 12 years we’ve been through some incredible highs and some unfortunate lows,” Watt said. “We’ve always done it together. We’ve always done it as one. We’ve always done it as a family. I couldn’t be more thankful to have a family like I do with the Houston Texans.”
Though it would be difficult for most Texans fans to pick their favorite Watt moment, the man himself easily chose one. He said that his favorite memory came in Houston’s first playoff appearance in the wild-card game in the 2011 season when his interception return for a TD helped the Texans to a 31-10 win over the Bengals.
“I always go back to the most meaningful one,” he said. “We had never been to the playoffs before, and we had never won a playoff game. That first playoff game, getting the pick-6 and the sack on the next series. Just knowing what that meant to this city and also for myself — I mean, I needed confidence, I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of playing in special games at this level. That moment, because of the impact it had, will always be probably my favorite one.”
As big as Watt’s impact on the field was, his mark off the field might have been even bigger. He became one of the most beloved figures in Houston’s sports history for play and his philanthropic work. His community efforts were highlighted by raising more than $40 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, which earned him the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
“I feel like that’s just what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “I had a job and I have the life that I have because of these fans who watch us play. So, I felt like it was my responsibility to give back to the city that made me who I am and gave me the life that I live.”
Rookies hit the record books
Puka Nacua, a rookie fifth-round draft pick, has 39 catches for 501 yards after the Rams’ 29-23 overtime win over the Colts. On Sunday, he surpassed Anquan Boldin (30) for the most receptions by an NFL player in his first four games. He also has the most yards by any NFL player in his first four games and became the first since Harlon Hill (Chicago Bears, 1954) with three 100-yard efforts in his first four games.
And Colts rookie Anthony Richardson became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to score on a touchdown run in his first three career games. His fourth TD run made him only the fourth player — and the first quarterback — since 2000 with four rushing scores in his first three games, joining running backs LaDainian Tomlinson (2001), Jahvid Best (2010), and Kareem Hunt (2017).
Browns honor Hall of Famer Thomas
Newly jacketed Hall of Famer Joe Thomas was added to the Ring of Honor in Cleveland during a halftime ceremony of the Browns’ 28-3 loss to the Ravens. He also received his Hall of Fame ring after being enshrined this summer.
A 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle with Cleveland, Thomas didn’t miss a single snap — 10,363 straight — before retiring after the 2017 season.
Unfriendly reunion in Los Angeles
Raiders defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, a Chargers first-round pick in 2019, was ejected in the second quarter of Los Angeles’s 24-17 win for a late hit on quarterback Justin Herbert on the sideline.
The high contact to Herbert’s head drew a crowd of powder blue jerseys and coaches trying to get at Tillery, who was penalized for unnecessary roughness and ejected.
Injuries catch up with receivers
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans injured his hamstring in the second quarter of a 26-9 win over the Saints and did not return … Bengals receiver Tee Higgins did not play in the second half of a 27-3 loss to the Titans because of injured ribs.