(WHTM) — After tying the NFL’s sack record, Steelers T.J. Watt wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year following the 2021-22 season. Watt had 22.5 sacks, tying Michael Strahan’s record-setting season in 2002.
T.J.’s brother, J.J. Watt, who is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, presented the award to his younger brother.
“To be able to be recognized as the best defensive player in the year is definitely something that I strive to be,” Watt said in a speech at NFL Honors. “I’m not huge on individual goals, but it’s tough for me not to want that when I saw my brother at the height of his career win the award three times. And I always just thought to myself, why can’t I do that?
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“I’m just so motivated. I’m very honored to receive this award and to be voted when there’s so many successful and great players in the national football league. And I don’t think it’s fully hit me quite yet.”
Watt’s historic season and record-tying performance comes despite the fact he missed two games this season due to injury. The 2021 season began with a lengthy contract negotiation that resulted in the Steelers making Watt the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
He immediately rewarded the franchise with his best season in his five-year career. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger even said he deserved MVP consideration this season.
The annual award is voted on by a panel of 50 media members, Watt received 42 votes.