There are all kinds of ways to celebrate a new mega million dollar sports contract. If you're former Houston Rocket Chandler Parsons, you go clubbing with a billionaire. If you're Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, you get a pet tiger (at least temporarily) and keep supermodel Kate Upton around long term.
J.J. Watt — the Houston Texans' newly minted $100 million man — is a little different from most though.
What did Watt do after agreeing to the record-breaking new deal so late Monday night that it has local print publications still playing catch up on their front pages today? He pulled himself out of bed at 3:05 a.m. and drove into Houston to work out in the Texans' weight room.
"He’s going to do nothing but get better," McNair insists.
Only problem is Watt found his door pass code had been changed (first game week of the regular season, would it really be any surprise if Bill O'Brien made sure the facility was extra secure?) Standing there at an entrance, unable to get into NRG Stadium, the best defensive player in football needed the type of assist he seldom requires on the football field.
"I was locked out and the cleaning lady had to let me in," Watt says. "I thought they locked me out. I thought they were pulling a joke on me.
I was like, 'This is something else, man. I’m not even on the team anymore.' No, so I came in here and did a little work out. The wonderful cleaning lady let me in, so thank you to her."
Sitting to the side of Watt at a feel-good press conference, Texans general manager Rick Smith notes, "I got a text message from him, a picture of him working out at 4 a.m. this morning. I’ve got the proof on my phone."
That's the type of thing that endears you to not only a fan base, but also to the man who will be signing your future mega checks.
"He’s going to do nothing but get better," McNair insists. ". . . I think it’s safe to say that as younger person, J.J. was not the most outstanding defensive player in the league wherever he was playing. He worked at it and each year he got better. He got better, and he kept working, and he got better and he got better.
"That’s a wonderful message for young people to see, that hard work pays off. He’s a perfect example of that."
"The wonderful cleaning lady let me in, so thank you to her."
That's why McNair acted now. The Texans could have kept Watt under their control for relative bargain salaries for several years (up to four more seasons if they used the franchise tag twice). Instead, they locked him up until the end of the 2021 season, starting the big money much earlier.
"We normally wouldn’t do this at this stage," McNair says. "We just felt that his performance had been so outstanding, his attitude so great, his work ethic is such a role model for everyone on our team that we felt that he deserves special consideration."
Which doesn't mean Watt felt becoming the highest paid defensive player in NFL history required a special celebration.
Just him, the cleaning lady and that empty weight room would be fine.
If former Bulls On Parade instigator Connor Barwin was still in Houston, maybe he would have tried to convince Watt to consider a pet bull. Of course, Watt probably would have just shook his head and went back to work.
That's what he does.