T.J. Watt has just about every accolade an NFL player could dream of through the first six seasons of his professional career. The former first-round pick has 5 Pro Bowls under his belt to go with 3 First-Team All-Pro honors. This is on top of being named the Steelers Team MVP for 3 straight seasons from 2019 to 2021 and earning Defensive Player of the Year honors following the 2021 season.
Watt did all of this despite dealing with injuries each of the past two years. In 2021, Watt was able to tie the all-time single-season sack record despite missing two games and leaving the contest early in others due to recurring hip, knee, and groin issues. Last year, Watt landed on IR after Week 1 due to a pectoral tear and didn't return until after the bye in Week 10.
This adversity certainly hasn't been able to derail him from a Hall of Fame track, and he could almost solidify a spot in Canton with another dominant performance in 2023. Now the stakes have been raised even higher.
Recently, Watt joined The Pat McAfee Show where he talked about a number of Steelers-related topics. McAfee also brought up his previous sack record and made a bold gesture. Pat McAfee said that he would donate a whopping $500,000 to the charity of Watt's choice if the Steelers star were to break his own single-season sack record in 2023.
This is a brave move on the part of McAfee. If T.J. Watt needed any more motivation to go out there and be the best, he just got it with this. Though many of us feel that 500k might seem like chump change to multi-millionaires, Watt knows this money can go a long way. He saw how his brother J.J. was able to help out with money he raised for hurricane relief during his time in Houston.
Watt was already playing with a purpose. He knows he's knocking on the door of the Hall of Fame, and what he does over the next couple of years will determine whether or not he gets in on the first ballot (or possibly not at all). Now he has a cause greater than any other, and millions of fans will be rooting for him to break the sack record this year.
The single-season sack record is attainable for T.J. Watt
In 2021, Watt tied Michael Strahan's record with 22.5 sacks. He will need a clean 23.0 or more in 2023 in order to officially break the record. This will no doubt require a peak performance from Watt and he needs to have good health on his side.
However, there's no question that this is within reach. Watt earned 22.5 in a season in which he missed 2 games and left the contest early four other times. Had he played the whole season, there's no doubt this record would have been shattered.
T.J. Watt is still in the prime of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and this goal isn't one that is impossible to achieve. Fans will love nothing more than to see Pat McAfee dish out $500,000 for Watt to use on the charity of his choice. Let's hope T.J. can make this happen!