Watt hasn’t been the same since his injury but McAfee backs him to repeat his record breaking season.

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linebacker T. J. Watt established himself as one of the best rushers in the NFL after he recorded 22.5 sacks in 2021. He equaled the tally set by former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001.

However, Watt wasn’t able to continue the trajectory the following season due to a torn pectoral muscle that he sustained against the Cincinnati Bengals. But that is behind him, and the 28-year-old is looking ahead to a brighter future.

As far as predictions go, Watt is once again in the mix to showcase a strong performance in the 2023 NFL season. He has the backing of analyst Pat McAfee. The former Colts punter is looking forward to Watt repeating the feat that won him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

The five-time Pro Bowler was a guest on his YouTube show yesterday. McAfee announced that he would donate $500,000 to a charity if Watt managed to break his sack record.

“22.5 is a big number,” McAfee told Watt. “If you break it, we’ll give $500,000 to a charity of your choice.”

However, to achieve that, he needs to keep himself fit. But since the injury, he hasn’t been the same, and a slight down year last time around is proof that he struggled quite a bit.

Watt was never the same after his injury

Pat McAfee BOLDLY claims he’ll donate a whopping $500,000 to charity if Steelers LB T. J. Watt breaks the 22.5 sacks record this season

Steelers suffered because of Watt’s injury (Image via Sky Sports)
T. J. Watt was at an All-Pro level when he got hurt. He missed the next seven games and looked shaky upon returning. The 9-8 Steelers went 8-2 with Watt in the lineup.

During a podcast session with retired football player Ben Roethlisberger, Watt revealed that the injury frustrated him. But he became upset when his physique and agility took a nosedive after recovery.

“I had Joe Burrow locked up,” Watt said, as per NFL.com. “My arm got stuck behind me. And that’s how I tore my pec.”

Not being able to tackle the Bengals quarterback was a nuisance for Watt, as he recalls that things would have been different if he had approached the play differently. “If I [had] just kept my hands low, there’s no hands to the face. The amount of times that I’ve drove myself nuts thinking like that.”

Watt only managed to complete 5.5 sacks in 10 games. “As soon as I came back, it never really got to 100 percent,” he added. But he feels good now after a satisfactory preseason.