J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai made the most of their romantic engagement setting. (@J.J. Watt)
Kealia Ohai is going to a better soccer situation in Chicago.
J.J. Watt is becoming a more vocal leader when the Texans need it most.
J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai celebrated their engagement with some breakfast. That's a baller move. (@KealiaOhai)
J.J. Watt and his girlfriend, Houston Dash player Kealia Ohai watch a video tribute during a public celebration of life for Houston Texans owner Robert C. McNair at NRG Stadium. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, POOL)
J.J. Watt and his girlfriend Kealia Ohai enjoy a red carpet moment at NFL Honors.
Aubrey Cook, Kealia Ohai (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
J.J. Watt won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award — then made his acceptance speech about everyone else.
J.J. Watt is a lot of things. Houston hurricane hero. Remarkable comeback story. One of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. The guy who went from being a college walk-on to becoming a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Lover of log cabins.
But it turns out, Watt also may be one of the sweetest boyfriends in the world.
When asked about the trade of Kealia Ohai, his soccer star fiancee, to the Chicago Red Stars in the midst of his own preparation for the Houston Texans’ playoff showdown with Kansas City, Watt made it clear it’s what good for Ohai that matters.
“I’m extremely excited for her,” Watt says. “It’s a great situation. Chicago is a great team. They have a ton of great players, a great coach and it’s a great organization. So, I’m really, really excited for her to get up there and to be able to play and watch her grow and succeed as a player.
“It’s also a great city, so I’m excited to be able to spend some time there. It’s close to my hometown (Waukesha, Wisconsin), so I’ll be up there spending some time as well.”
Watt dismissed even the idea of being disappointed because he and Ohai will be playing in different cities.
“The time apart will be difficult, obviously,” he says. “But the thing that we both said is that – I told her when she was asking about it, I said, ‘You only get so many years to play your sport.’ For me, football, for her, soccer. You only get so many years to do it.
“We have the rest of our lives to spend together. I want you to take every advantage you possibly can to make your soccer career as great as you possibly can because you can’t do it forever.”
That is supportive spouse MVP level stuff. Everyone deserves a significant other this supportive.
Watt is also exactly right. The 27-year-old Ohai is in the prime of her soccer career — and she’s talented enough to be on a future Women’s World Cup team. The Red Stars have made the playoffs in five straight seasons — and they advanced to the NWSL championship final last October.
In contrast, the Houston Dash have never posted a winning record or made the playoffs in their six seasons of existence.
The Red Stars had four players called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team’s training camp roster. The Dash had none.
Ohai is going from a rebuilding situation to a winning situation — and a higher level of play. Chicago gives an already talented scorer a chance to raise her game.
In many ways, it’s easy to argue that Ohai has more of her athletic career ahead of her than the 30-year-old Watt does. Having just returned (way ahead of schedule and previous medical convention) from another major injury, Watt could very well be in the backstretch of his NFL career.
He pushed and pushed to come back for these playoffs — and now gets the chance to try and help push the Texans to the first AFC Championship Game in franchise history Sunday afternoon against the heavily favored Chiefs. But it’s fair to wonder how many chances like this are left for No. 99.
Even if the passion for the game — and the Texans organization — is still clearly there.
“You do all this to play the game, and when you get hurt, when you get injured, when you go through something, you face adversity.” Watt says. “There’s nothing in your mind but getting back out there and doing what you love for your teammates, for your coaches, for those fans, because that’s what it’s all for. There’s no other reason to do it.
“It’s because of all those people, it’s because of. . . it’s what you do. I don’t even know what the other option is. Like, I don’t even know what. Quit? No.”
Kealia Ohai and J.J. Watt, Partners in Drive
Ohai and Watt push each other, particularly when it comes to workouts and training ideas. With Ohai in intense training for her next season, the couple is talking deceleration patterns (the ability to slow down and change directions) these days.
The soccer standout is an equally supportive girlfriend, eagerly watching football games with Watt — and more.
“I mean, she fills my Game Ready for me every night,” Watt says of the hot and cold compression system often used during injury recovery. “Like stupid stuff. But it’s awesome. And I’m so glad that she understands and we understand each other and what we go through.”
So yes, J.J. Watt is going to embrace Ohai’s opportunity in Chicago. Even if it means they’re apart a little more often.
“Whatever you have to do, if we have to fly, we have to travel, we have to do whatever it is,” Watt says. “Do what you can possibly do now to make your soccer career as great as possible, because you’re going to create memories that will last a lifetime.
“And then we can talk about him for the rest of our life.”
Did you really think J.J. Watt was going to be a bad boyfriend? That is one role he’s not playing.