MIAMI — Steve Owens always will be Miami’s No. 1 son, but JJ Watt of the Houston Texans has earned a spot in the hearts of Wardog football fans.
The J.J. Watt Foundation, founded by the Texans’ star defensive end, donated $9,455 to help purchase 60 helmets and 60 shoulder pads for the Will Rogers Middle School football teams and eight competition mats for the WRMS cheer teams.
“The most impressive thing on my end is just how unselfishly he is giving his money to schools he doesn't even have any attachment to,” said Miami Public Schools athletic director Chad Davis.
“It’s a pretty cool deal to be a part of that and to say we have a connection to JJ Watt even though he has never set foot in Miami, Oklahoma,” Davis said. “But at the same time, he’s made a big impact here and in other places across the country without even knowing it. I don't know if they realize how big of an impact their giving gifts makes.”
The foundation’s mission statement “is to provide after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children in the community to become involved in athletics, so that they may learn the character traits of accountability, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, and perseverance, while in a safe and supervised environment with their peers.
Since it’s founding in 2011, $5.2 million has been funded by the foundation to more than 500 schools in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
Watt was the 11th overall pick by the Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft. He’s been the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and has been a five-time first-team All-Pro pick from 2012-2015 and 2018.
Watt won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2017 for his work in helping Houston recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“JJ wants to impact middle school kids around that age because that was the age he realized that he wanted to pay football and used football as an avenue to get him through a lot of stuff,” Davis said. “He always said if he got to a point in life where he could help, he was going to do that. To do it to the tune of over $5 million is incredible.”