It seems more than half the fans in NRG Stadium sport #99 J.J. Watt jerseys on game days. But why does the defensive superstar wear “The Great One’s” famed digits?
“It goes back a long way,” a grinning Watt said.
The reason dates back to Watt’s days playing high school football at Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin, where he lined up at the position he now terrorizes.
“In high school I was a quarterback and I ordered number eight and when the jerseys came in, number eight didn't come in, so they gave me number nine,” Watt said with a laugh.
Watt, who in his senior season was the 2007 Woodland Conference Player of the Year, had the 11th highest selling jersey in the NFL last season. Nine of the top 10 players on the list are quarterbacks; Watt, at 11, was the highest ranked defensive player.
After high school Watt went to Central Michigan to play tight end, but eventually ended up on the defensive side of the ball at Wisconsin. That’s where he made the switch.
“Couple years down the road I went to Wisconsin and started there,” Watt said. “I made it to be a starter and they gave me a choice to wear a number. So I just kind of doubled it up and went with 99.”
Watt, who’s a two-time All-Pro and the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, has become one of the faces of the league and likely the most recognizable person in Houston.
“I mean it's the last number on the team, it's a memorable number and I feel like it's a dominant number,” Watt said. “I want to obviously fill that role.”