Spring 2021 Magazine

20 NFL players to watch in 2020: Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Through Sept. 13, the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting one Christ-following player each day for 20 days.

It’s been a busy week for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. On Saturday, he signed a four-year $160 million contract extension with the Texans. The deal is the second-largest in NFL history, trailing only the one Patrick Mahomes signed earlier this year.

“As a child growing up in Georgia, it was always my dream to play in the NFL,” Watson said in a tweet. “I couldn’t be more honored and humbled to sign a long-term deal in Houston, the city that I’ve grown to love so much and now call my home.”

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There were some unexpected guests at Watson’s press conference announcing the extension, including his high school offensive coordinator, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander and his former college coach, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.

“God trusts you, and God is blessing you so you can bless others with your talents, with your resources,” Swinney told Watson. “So you just continue to let that light shine, continue to smile, continue to be that leader that you are and continue to be that legendary quarterback that you are as well.”

Three days later, Watson’s first book – titled “Pass It On: Work Hard, Serve Others … Repeat” – was released. He joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast in July to talk about the book and what he’s learned during such a chaotic year.

“I feel like even though I’m so young and so early in my career and my journey, I feel like my testimony speaks a lot for what I went through and what I’ve had to experience and be aware of and kind of change throughout my process,” Watson said. “I feel like every time I go to these events and I share my story, teenagers to adults in their 40s and 50s are saying how much they got out of that story, how much it’s helping them with their lives. For me to be able to have this first part – because I want to write many more books – but this is the first 24 years of my life and what I went through on and off the field and my faith and things like that.”

Watson, who turns 25 on Monday, is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and won his first playoff game in 2019. The Texans overturned an early 16-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Bills in overtime, before falling to Mahomes and the Chiefs in the divisional round.

With Watson at the helm, Houston has won the AFC South two years in a row. He threw for 3,852 yards and rushed for another 413 last season. In Week 5, Watson became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards and five touchdowns with five or fewer incompletions.

The 2016 national champion with Clemson uses seven key principles to guide his life: generosity, empathy, self-sacrifice, service, commitment, strength and values in action. He never wants to lose sight of the ways God has blessed him and strives to fulfill his ultimate purpose: serving others.

“I always want to stay grounded, stay based, remember where I come from because He put you right here for a reason,” Watson said. “He put you here to serve other people and use that platform in that way.”

All eyes will be on Watson and the Texans on Thursday night, as they visit Kansas City for a rematch with the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs in the first game of the 2020 NFL season. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on NBC.

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