She inspired him to chase his dream of playing football. I’d say she did a good job
J.J. Watt is rightfully known for being one of the more sentimental and generous players in the NFL, always sticking around to sign autographs when he’s off the clock, dropping in on fire department training, and rarely missing an opportunity to drop in on a kid who could use a boost.
On Monday, his presence surely delighted a whole classroom of kids, but the inspiration for his visit was actually someone from his past – his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Judy Keefe, who’s retiring after 41 years in the classroom. To add a little more ceremony and notoriety to his unexpected visit, he put video of the surprise up on Facebook Live and offered some very kind words about the inspirational woman on his Instagram.
Here’s a video of Watt, cake in hand, swinging by to thank Mrs. Keefe. It’s already amassed 3.1 million views because, well, this is a nice story, and he’s J.J. Watt, a guy with legions of fans.
It’s pretty clear that’s not the type of cake you pick up at the grocery store at the last minute; J.J. had been planning this for a while. “School’s Out Forever” is a pretty nice touch as well.
In case you can’t watch the video to see Mrs. Keefe’s reaction, these Instagram images convey her reaction just as well:
Perhaps the most touching moment of the whole event was her kind words remembering J.J. as a boy in her class. She recalls, “Remember, when he was your age, he looked at me with those baby blues, and what he said to me was, ‘I want to be a Badger.’ I said, ‘Well, you have to work hard.’ He said, ‘I really want to do it.’ Look where he is now. You can do whatever you want to do.”
J.J.’s doing it, and he’s not about to forget the people that encouraged him along the way.