TRADING PLACES?

For all the fans ready to trade away J.J. Watt, you might be missing something

Trade JJ? Not so fast. Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

J.J. Watt is the greatest and most popular, most giving and caring, athlete in Houston history.

So why is everybody pushing the Houston Texans to trade Watt for a couple of draft picks or another butterfingers running back before the NFL trade deadline next Tuesday? If that happens, and with the Texans approaching the bye-week, it would mean that J.J. Watt has already played his last game for the Texans.

It would be a grave mistake to trade Watt, even for the Texans who already have one foot in the grave this season.

I get it, great players crave championships. Watt may be the exception. He doesn't need a title to be a champion. He's already much more. He is a legend in Houston.

A few years ago, Hurricane Harvey dropped a record amount of rainfall on our city. Watt asked fans to help him raise $200,000 for flood victims. Watt raised a little more than that - $37 million. And he made sure the money was spent wisely. When skies cleared and the dust settled, Watt's fundraising rebuilt 1,183 homes and 971 children's centers, and provided 249 million meals for people in need. That's how you measure a champion.

Watt was blown away by the charity of Houstonians: "Thank you for continuing to shine a light on the beauty of the human spirit."

That's more meaningful than holding a trophy.

There's an old and incorrect belief that great players yearn to play in New York or Los Angeles so they can grab endorsement money and opportunities outside of sports.

Watt plays in Houston. He is the star of stage, screen and H-E-B commercials. He's hosted Saturday Night Live on NBC and Ultimate Tag on Fox. He stole the show in the movie Bad Moms. Jimmy Buffett called him onstage to play conga drums for Margaritaville at the Woodlands Pavilion. He's got his own ice cream flavor. Watt makes quarterback money endorsing American Family Insurance, NRG, Reebok, Gatorade, Subway, Ford and Verizon.

He doesn't need New York or Los Angeles. He has Houston. By the way, can you even name a New York Knick?

He is the 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, five times first-team All Pro, five Pro Bowl selections, two times sack leader and Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year. He met his wife Kealia in Houston.

Sports writers and some fans think Watt is overpaid for what he delivers now. That may be the case. But money paid to J.J. Watt is money well spent. Do you really want to see him wearing another team's uniform? Remember how we scrunched our faces watching Hakeem Olajuwon, his skills clearly diminished, averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds his final season for the Toronto Raptors?

Weren't you proud to watch Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell enter baseball's Hall of Fame after playing their entire careers in Houston?

J.J. Watt is only 31 years old. He is still the Texans' best player on defense. While the Texans are a hot mess this year, they have a generational quarterback and quality receivers, even after dummy traded away our best pass catcher for a bag of magic beans. The NFL is a fluid league. The Texans could find their way back to competitiveness in a few years. Watt will be age appropriate for a winning team. Whatever you get in exchange won't match Watt's skill set and leadership. So why say goodbye to him now?

Yes, the desire to win a championship rages in J.J. Watt. His post-game, post-loss media opportunities have become painful to watch - "I'm angry" and "it sucks."

Absolutely losing sucks for players. But the adoration and respect that Watt carries in Houston is more valuable and enduring than a photo op holding a Super Bowl trophy in a city that isn't your home.

However, if J.J. Watt marches into Texans owner Cal McNair's office and demands a trade, then that's different. Watt has earned the right to control his destiny.

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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