Beyond the Boxscore
Alec Baldwin love mocks J.J. Watt: Adrian Peterson can't even dominate NFL awards with Texans' flair
J.J. Watt winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award was as predictable as the ending of Hoosiers. There is no way anyone else could have walked out of New Orleans' Mahalia Jackson Theater with that hardware on Super Bowl eve.
And if someone had tried, they very well may have ended up with Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips clamped on their leg like a rabid pit bull.
This was Watt's award long before Saturday night. But the extent to which the night would be his — the way in which his rising star presence would stand up in a room with Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffin III — provided another eye-opening lesson on the growing legend of J.J. Watt.
Heck, even the slit in Olivia Munn's dress could not overshadow Watt.
Not with Alec Baldwin — the host of the grandly titled "2nd Annual NFL Honors" — saving some of his best material for Houston's own.
Even the slit in Olivia Munn's dress could not overshadow J.J. Watt.
As Baldwin talked about all the big men in the audience angry about the fact they're not playing in Sunday's big game, he found No. 99. Who happened to be sitting in the audience next to his brothers, Derek and T.J., and Phillips.
"I'm looking at you, J.J. Watt," Baldwin cracked. "J.J. Watt . . . the answer to the question: What if Rocky and Drago had a son together."
Watt took the ribbing in stride, flashing a thumbs up sign.
With his new semi mohawk haircut, the face of the Texans does look a little like the Russian boxer villain from Rocky IV. Not that the reference is likely to mean a whole lot to Watt. Rocky IV came out four years before this 23-year-old game changer was born.
He didn't exactly live the Cold War.
But hey, even old guys like Alec Baldwin know who J.J. Watt is now.
The scene in New Orleans makes it clear that Watt is not just Houston's budding superstar anymore. This city's new Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio-level beloved figure is more than national. Six days after Watt stole the show at the Pro Bowl with his torn-up, blood-squirting finger, he commands the NFL's awards show.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson may be the biggest winner of the night, but in many ways, Watt is the most memorable.
It's not just how dominant Watt's win is. Forty nine of the 50 voters selected by the Associated Press put Watt first on their Defensive Player of the Year ballots. Former Texas A&M star Von Miller enjoyed a great second season in the NFL. But Walter Mondale had a better chance against Reagan than Miller did against Watt's 2012.
"J.J. Watt . . . the answer to the question: What if Rocky and Drago had a son together."
The only question is what ESPN's Ashley Fox — the lone dissenter who voted for Miller over Watt — watched this season.
Watt racked up 20 and 1/2 sacks and 16 passes defensed, a combination of double dominance that's never been done before. He changed games — orchestrating a 10-point swing in the Texans' season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins and essentially never letting up.
The Texans' prospects of making a Super Bowl anytime soon rest on Watt growing into the unquestioned team leader and driving his teammates to work just as relentlessly as he does.
But on a Saturday night in the Big Easy, Watt tried to make it about more than just him. He credited his teammates, Texans general manager Rick Smith (for drafting him when many others doubted) and Texans owner Bob McNair — and even thanked his parents for all the meals they made him as a kid.
"You guys taught me 'If I'm willing to work hard, I can do anything in life,' " Watt continued on his parents.
Then, he threw in a "Go Texans."
It was about as perfect an acceptance speech as you can give. Pretty soon, other NFL players are going to be coming to J.J. Watt for quote lessons too.
Let Brett Favre (who looks more desperate than ever to be noticed) and Aaron Rodgers resort to staged skits of awkwardness for the CBS audience. Watt will keep it real and still emerge as arguably the most memorable figure of the night — a star of stars.
Watt makes sure everyone shares in the moment too. There is Phillips sitting right behind Steve Young thanks to Watt. The architect of the Bulls On Parade defense suits up for the occasion too.
Maybe, Alec Baldwin will work Wade into his monologue next year. You know, he and J.J. will be back.