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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