J.J. Watt is so in demand this offseason he had to post a blanket message on social media to politely decline all the prom invitations pouring in.
Watt is heeding advice to take advantage of (almost) all the opportunities that come as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. He also must ensure his schedule allows for his full training regime.
"All the cool stuff I'm doing is great," the Houston Texans end said in a phone interview Thursday. "All that will go away if I don't play well."
Watt figures he's been on a plane 20-25 times already this offseason, compared with eight or nine flights at this point last year. The one trip he absolutely wanted to make was to join an NFL USO trip to visit American troops in the Middle East. He'd heard coach Gary Kubiak and others rave about the experience.
Watt had hoped to go last year but the timing didn't work out. He started talking to organizers early on this time to make sure the dates came together.
The fellow stars on the trip included Broncos linebacker Von Miller, the only other person to earn a vote for defensive player honors.
"I always wanted to make sure that whatever I did, I thanked them," Watt said of last week's visit to the troops.
Watt's offseason travels have included a vacation in Ireland, his one chance at some "me time." Then there was the "proposal" to a 6-year-old fan seen crying in a viral video that she was too young to marry the football star — photos of which soon went viral themselves.
A year ago, Watt was coming off a strong rookie season as a first-round draft pick. Then he led the NFL with 20½ sacks and blocked 16 passes in his second season to earn 49 of 50 votes for defensive player honors.
"It's a whole lot different," Watt said of this offseason. "Everything is magnified. Anything you do is written about and put on the Internet."
Watt is just 24 after celebrating a birthday Friday. He's not fazed by the knowledge all future seasons will be judged off of 2012.
"That's fine by me," he said. "Nobody has higher expectations than I do."