A player who once stood supreme atop NFL's Mount Olympus, looking down on the rest of the mere mortals who just so happened to play in the same league, Watt redefined what we thought was possible for a defensive lineman over his first half-decade in the NFL. But the injury-ravaged seasons of 2016 and 2017 stripped Watt of his omnipotence and made fans and analysts alike contemplate if we'd ever see that level of dominance ever again.
Blinded by the past examples of future greats who returned from injury as only a shell of their former selves, many lamented the player he once was, abandoning hope of ever seeing that oh-so-familiar image of the quarterback-shaped puddle underneath the monstrous frame of No. 99. Others took the “more realistic” approach: They accepted that it was unlikely to see the old J.J. again, but they remained cautiously optimistic that he'd be able to return somewhere close to full strength — heck, even a half-Watt would do. Even a half-Watt would be better than most.
As it turns out, we were too quick to dismiss the possibility that ultimately span itself into reality. Elite J.J. Watt returned in 2018, and he looked far, far from finished in this league.