About 20 minutes after she posted her tweet, Watt responded. The former Texans superstar, who played in Houston for 10 seasons before joining the Cardinals, told Simpson to keep the gear and that he would help finance the service himself.
Simpson, an English teacher at Brazosport High in Freeport, Tex., later commented on Watt’s response, saying “I hope I never have to part ways with 99!”
Even after his move from the Texans to the Cardinals before last season, the three-time defensive player of the year has maintained his charitable links to his former home.
Watt’s most notable act in that community came in 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. That Category 4 storm, which dropped more than 50 inches of rain on some areas of the coastal metropolis, led to the deaths of more than 100 people and resulted in more than $125 billion worth of damage. In response, the J.J. Watt Foundation raised $41.6 million for relief efforts, the largest crowdsourced fundraiser in history.
For his efforts, Watt was awarded the 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
“The connection I have with the people of Houston is special, and I will never take that for granted because I know how rare it is,” Watt said in a video in February 2021, following his release from the Texans. “I just want you to know that I love you and I appreciate you.”
Watt’s foundation has also raised more than $6.5 million for after-school athletic programs in 39 states and D.C. since Watt’s rookie year in 2011, per the organization’s website. The future Hall of Famer also been hands-on with his charity work, from visiting and befriending child victims of a car crash in 2011 to fulfilling the Christmas wish lists of more than 100 women and children at the Mission of Yahweh shelter in Houston in 2019.
When his release from the Texans was announced, grateful fans responded with a torrent of $99 donations, in honor of his jersey number.
“Kids all over the country will benefit from your generosity,” he said in a tweet. “I’m truly thankful.”
Waking up this morning to a flood of $99 donations to @WattFoundation from Houston and cities all over the country (presumably attempts at bribes, judging by the messages attached with some 😂)
Kids all over the country will benefit from your generosity.
I’m truly thankful.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 13, 2021