Fame is a fickle thing. Society, and the media, love to prop people up and then at the drop of a hat they love to turn right back around and tear them down.
New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, professional golfer Tiger Woods and basketball star LeBron James are all great examples. Each were popular at a young age (heck LeBron had his high school basketball games shown on ESPN) and touted the next king’s of their respected profession.
The media love for these guys was almost sickening at times. A-Rod was already crowned a home run champ before taking his first swing, there were commercials of Tiger practicing in the rain and saying he had no “off-days” (because no other athlete would do this?) and LeBron was compared to the greatest NBA player ever before his rookie season started.
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Then came the turn. Yes, some was self inflicted, Rodriguez used steroids and Tiger had his cheating scandal. However, James was ridiculed for doing what many players have done, left the team that drafted him.
ESPN aired a special called “the Decision,” where LeBron chose his team live on their network. Then ESPN spent the next four years destroying James for being on the show they asked him to do. No one ever cared that it was not LeBron’s idea, or that he gave the money from the show to charity.
This exact thing is starting to happen now to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who is being beat up for showing signs of age, after a career of being a media darling.
All four guys proved they were human, and all were absolutely destroyed for this. The bigger you are built up, the bigger the target seems to become.
Which brings me to the Texans defensive end, J.J. Watt. It is almost impossible to turn the television on anymore and not see Watt’s face.
He has been poked fun at by members of The Dan Patrick show for his portrayal on ‘Hard Knocks.’ He was constantly shown working out and staying longer than everyone else. While the portrayal was probably accurate and sincere, it seems to have come across wrong to some.
The “Watt work ethic” is also shown in Verizon commercials where he is chopping down wood, and that somehow compares to how hard their phone company works. There is even a commercial where they discuss how his legs work harder than others.
And now he is the featured person on an E:60 special called “Never Given.” The special follows J.J. on and off the field giving a look at both sides of the man behind the face mask.
The one worry for Watt is this media love becoming a weapon against him. While some media coverage and hype is great, too much can be like a rubber band. The more there is, the further the rubber band gets stretched. Before long it is let go and the further out it was, the harder it hits.
It’s true that Watt is the type of person and player every single coach and fan should want for their franchise leader. Head coach Bill O’Brien is always quick to sing the praises of Watt.
"“You can’t say enough about the guy,” O’Brien said. “He shows up here, ready to go and plays the whole game. That’s what great players do.”"
While there is absolutely no reason to think Watt will ever do anything to force the ire of the media as A-Rod and Tiger did (and I guess LeBron too even though that can be argued), there is a worry that the media will turn on him. Especially if Houston continues to sit on the wrong side of the standings.