The NFL has never seen anything like J.J. Watt. This past season, the second-year Houston Texan recorded 20.5 sacks (2.5 shy of the single-season record) and batted down 16 passes, an unprecedented number for a defensive end. We caught up with the AFC Defensive Player of the Year at a Manhattan barbershop—where he was getting a fresh Mohawk, courtesy of AXE Hair—to discuss the Super Bowl, proper arm muscle development and Metallica. Naturally.
As soon as I step across the white lines, I turn into a different person. That’s when I go into beast mode, as we call it. A lot of people say you can’t just flip a switch, but for me it’s just like that.
MADE MAN: So who do you like in the Super Bowl?
J.J. WATT: I don’t make predictions, but I’m looking forward to a great defensive game. I love watching Justin Smith play for the Niners, and obviously Ray Lewis in his last game. It’s going to be a great matchup.
MM: Who would you rather face right now, Colin Kaepernick or Joe Flacco?
JW: Flacco. I mean, he’s a great quarterback, but I’m not into that running stuff like with Kaepernick. I like when a quarterback kind of sits there.
MM: You guys destroyed the Ravens earlier in the year, 43-13. What’s the key to beating them?
JW: Obviously we were in our home stadium, so our crowd helped us a lot. And we put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. That was a big deal for us. We stopped the run first, and then we put pressure on the quarterback.
MM: How do the Ravens beat the Niners?
JW: They need to control Kaepernick. I mean, they need to obviously put points on the board, but they need to keep Kaepernick inside the pocket. And make him beat them with his arm.
MM: Speaking of arms, what’s your advice for getting big guns like yours?
JW: I would say don’t focus just on the biceps. Make sure you hit the triceps, too. You can do that with push-downs, dips and the close-grip bench press.
MM: Favorite exercise in the weight room?
JW: I’m a big fan of dips. And I do a lot of core work. I do planks, and I do a lot of agility drills and jumps in a sand pit. It makes me lock in my core.
MM: Favorite muscle-building foods?
JW: Mashed potatoes are big for me. Steak is big. And wheat bagels with peanut butter in the morning. Those are huge. Those are three staples.
MM: Any supplement or nutrition advice?
JW: I’m not a huge supplement guy. I’m a firm believer in getting proteins and carbs from real food. I take one post-workout supplement, but other than that, I’m pretty natural.
MM: What are your five favorite songs to work out to?
JW: I like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” “The Beast” by Tech N9ne. “Hells Bells” by AC/DC. “Sandstorm” by Darude. And I’ll go Metallica, “Enter Sandman.”
MM: How do you turn on the aggressiveness to play, then turn if off?
JW: For me, it’s easy. As soon as I step across the white lines, I turn into a different person. That’s when I go into beast mode, as we call it. And I know that once I step off the field, I need to be very personable. I like talking to the fans, I love the kids. A lot of people say you can’t just flip a switch, but for me it’s just like that.
MM: So what prompted the Mohawk?
JW: AXE Hair had a fan contest online and the Mohawk was voted the best haircut for men. And so they hooked me up with a Mohawk for the offseason, and I really like the way it looks.
MM: What’s next for you—long flowing hair like Clay Matthews?
JW: No, I don’t think I can grow it out. This was like a risk for me. This is outside the box. This is extreme. But I’m real happy with the way it turned out, and I’ve already gotten a couple good reviews from ladies.
MM: Any parting words of wisdom for guys?
JW: If you want to be the best, you have to work harder than everybody else. And it’s easy to say. Everybody will do it for a little bit. But you have to be willing to work harder than your competition at all times.
AXE Hair donated $50,000 to J.J. Watt’s charity, which provides after-school athletics assistance for middle-school kids in Wisconsin and Houston. Like J.J.’s Mohawk? Visit Facebook.com/AXE to learn about their new line of styling products.