It has been three years in the waiting for T.J. Watt. In 2019 and 2020, he was in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year, but the voters gave it to a generational player in Aaron Donald. In 2021, however, his fortunes have now changed. Watt was named the Defensive Player of the Year on Thursday, marking his first in his stellar career thus far.
Watt’s 22.5 total sacks on the season tied Michael Strahan’s all-time sack record. Including the playoffs, Watt registered 23.5 sacks, which are the most sacks all-time for a player combined in the regular season and postseason. It seemed inevitable after his record-setting season that Watt would earn the award for the first time in his career.
By winning the award, Watt joins six other Steelers in the pantheon of Steelers with the award. Those he is joining include James Harrison, Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Troy Polamalu, and Jack Lambert. That is quite a list to join, with five being Hall of Famers and the other being the franchise’s all-time sack leader.
The next goal for Watt will be repeating and winning the award twice. Only one Steeler has ever won the award twice, and that was the aforementioned Greene. If he keeps it up, there is always the very real opportunity for Watt to continue breaking barriers, even in the Steelers’ storied history.