AP Photo/David J. Phillip

J.J. Watt Honors Grandpa on Veterans Day with Military-Themed Shoes

When you think of professional athletes coming out with their own signature shoes, a name like the NBA's greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, probably comes to mind. After that, NBA All-Stars like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard might follow suit. Heck, even Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has his own shoe through Under Armour.

When it comes to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, though, the first thing you likely think of is quarterback sacks and his unmatched philanthropy, right? Well, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year actually has his own signature training shoes through a partnership with Reebok, and they should definitely be the next athletic shoe you own.

When Watt first signed his deal with Reebok, NFL players weren't allowed to wear the brand on the field. The NFL relaxed its policies on footwear during pregame warmups in later years, although the NFL and Nike agreed to an eight-year deal in 2018 for the global brand to be the league's exclusive provider of uniforms during games.

Players like Watt who have deals with companies outside Nike typically wear custom, unmarked shoes made specifically by their endorser during games.

Since you don't need to worry about ridiculous NFL rules, do yourself a favor and get a pair of new kicks courtesy of a four-time All-Pro in the midst of a Hall of Fame career.

Watt's first sneaker release came in 2016 when he dropped the Reebok JJ One. These sneakers come with a liquid foam insert adding support around the heel for a little extra cushion. You can get this mid-cut sneaker in black, white, sandstone or a sweet blue beam design like below.

J.J. Watt Shoes

In 2017, Watt upped the ante when he dropped the Reebok JJ II. This low-cut cross training shoe gives you everything you'd want for your weight room training needs. Whether you're a crossfit fanatic or just looking to stay healthy, these make perfect running shoes with their Lenoweave design for maximum ventilation, plus they're available in a ton of colors and styles.

Prior to the start of the 2018 season, after coming back from a tibial plateau fracture, Watt and Reebok released a special Clean Slate all-white edition of the JJ Watt II's to welcome his fresh start. Inside the sock liner is a message that reads, "Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey."

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Despite all that, J.J. Watt still wasn't done.

During the 2018 holiday season, Watt created his most important pair of JJ shoes to date. The new shoes, called the JJ II Valor Edition, were created for members of the Navy SEAL community after Watt met a group of Navy SEAL widows back in 2012 and they became lifelong friends. For every pair of JJ Watt shoes that were sold, an additional pair of free shoes would be donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation. Also, all of the personal gains that Watt made during that time were donated to the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Foundation.

A patch inside that shoe reads, "Never Forget, June 28, 2005," which coincides with Operation Red Wings, a mission that took place in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, where many of those Navy SEAL widows lost their husbands. Watt brought in a Navy SEAL to help design the shoe with him.

Watt said of the outcome, "As you can see, it's nothing crazy, it's nothing flashy — It's what he wanted."

Watt and the Houston Texans secured another AFC South division title and playoff appearance in 2018, and you can best believe the only athletic footwear touching the feet of one of the NFL's most formidable athletes that season, and every play after, will come courtesy of Reebok.

UPDATE: Leading up to Veterans Day 2019, Watt decided to release his JJ Watt Valor III in honor of his grandfather who served in the Korean War. The black shoe has a camouflage bottom, the Korean War stripes on the back, and "James Watt" and his grandpa's military division, battalion and regiment stitched into the tongue.

"All of my proceeds go to the Honor Flight which takes war veterans on a trip to D.C. to visit the monuments and brings them back home to a proper Welcome Home."

This post was originally published December 7, 2018.

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