T.J. Watt knew the outcome of Defensive Player of the Year hours before it was announced. He opted against showing up at the event, heading elsewhere in Las Vegas as Myles Garrett took home the trophy for the first time.
He also sent out a tweet before the ceremony, implying that being snubbed is something he’s used to.
SB Nation’s JP Acosta caught up with Watt to ask him what he meant about the tweet.
“People were seeing I wasn’t there,” Watt said. “I wanted to let them know why I wasn’t there. It was a situation where it’s something I’m truly used to at this point. Just use as motivation going forward.”
Garrett received 23 first-place votes to Watt’s 19 while totaling 165 points to Watt’s 140. It’s not the first time Watt felt like he was in position to win the award but came up empty. In 2019, he lost out to CB Stephon Gilmore and in 2020, he was edged out by DT Aaron Donald.
Despite leading the league in sacks in three of the last four seasons, the only exception his injury-shortened 2022 season, he’s won just one Defensive Player of the Year Award. Had he taken home the trophy last night, he would’ve been one of just a handful of players to ever win the award twice, joining big brother J.J. Watt.
Watt won the Deacon Jones Award, an objective measure that goes to the player with the most sacks, and Steelers DL Cam Heyward was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year, meaning Pittsburgh still took home some hardware. But Watt falling short despite his dominant season is disappointing, even if players like Micah Parsons want to jab him in the process.
Watt finished 2023 with 19 sacks, giving him 96.5 for his career. Acosta asked Watt what more he could’ve done to vault himself into first place, outproducing Garrett in every box score category.
“That’s up for everybody to kind of debate.”
Watt will look to win the award next year. But it’s clear he’ll have to put up even better numbers for his second trophy.