The egg wiggled — actually, “wiggled” isn’t the right word. The egg shook — no, “shook” isn’t the right word, either. The egg rumbled — nope, “rumbled” is wrong, too. The egg quaked.
There it is.
The egg quaked. It was massive, this quake. It had an aftershock, this quake. It was undeniable and intimidating. Because the egg, the offspring of a giant bald eagle, was all of those things as well. And it was hatching.
All of the biographical information you can read on the internet about J.J. Watt will tell you that he was born:
- On March 22.
- In 1989.
- In Wisconsin.
- In a hospital.
- To Connie (mom) and John Watt (dad), hardworking middle-class Americans.
Those are nice details and make for a nice backstory, but that’s all they are: a story. A fiction. A fable. They aren’t the truth.
Here is the truth, and I will tell you the truth because I am a patriot and telling the truth is a fundamental tenet of patriotism: J.J. Watt was not born in a hospital in Wisconsin on March 22, 1989, to Connie (mom) and John Watt (dad), hardworking middle-class Americans. J.J. Watt was born:
- On July Fourth.
- In 1989.
- In Washington, D.C.
- He was hatched out of a giant egg in the nest of a giant bald eagle.
- To a giant bald eagle (mom) and the ghost of George Washington (dad).
Theirs was a captivating romance, the giant bald eagle and the ghost of George Washington. Most didn’t understand it. Most said it wouldn’t work, that it couldn’t work. “You’re an eagle and he’s a ghost!” the dissenters would say. But it made no never mind to either of them. “They also said America wouldn’t work, do you remember that?” the ghost of George Washington asked his ghost friends one night. “And look at us, the finest country on earth, with the finest military, and also several Long John Silver’s in many cities.” With that, he defeated his naysayers.
When the giant bald eagle told her parents of her relationship with the ghost of George Washington, there was also turmoil. She confessed her love for him: “Skreeeeeeeee.” Her mother shot back in disappointment: “Skreeeeeeeee.” Her father echoed her mother: “Skreeeeeeeee.” And it went on like that, the bickering and the arguing, each of them skreeeeeeeee-ing things that they could never take back. But the giant bald eagle was not there to ask permission. The giant bald eagle was there to tell them that she was in love.
And so her relationship with the ghost of George Washington grew, and it grew beautifully and perfectly, until one night he laid her down on a giant American flag and he told her he loved her and she told him “Skreeeeeeeee” and they consummated their love, and some say that fireworks were invented that night, but I cannot say for certain.
Three months later — one month for each branch of the United States government — the egg quaked. And when it hatched, there sat a fully grown J.J. Watt: American, in his Houston Texans uniform, because they don’t have an Americans uniform in the NFL, because the NFL is not perfect. A Texans uniform was as close as Watt could get, so that’s what he went with.
“Hello, J.J., I’m your daddy,” the ghost of George Washington said to J.J. Watt. His giant bald eagle mama leaned in and pecked him gently with her giant bald eagle beak. And J.J. Watt spoke his first words, except they weren’t words at all.
J.J. Watt’s first words were a salute, and it was a salute so fine and so strong that the sound of him moving his hand to his forehead traveled through time and obliterated an ISIS stronghold in the Middle East.
Do you remember when the Americans were the first people to land on the moon? I’m sure you know that story. Again, most of it is just that: a story. The real truth is that the night J.J. Watt became the NFL’s sack leader in 2012, the ghost of George Washington, who’d vanished back into the netherworld on J.J.’s 18th birthday, returned to him. “You must help America,” he told Watt. “How,” Watt asked. “The moon,” the ghost of George Washington said, and then a time-warping space portal appeared.
Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida, 1969
“How did this happen?!” the Secretary of Space Defense said to a room full of subordinates. “You told me it’d be ready! My ass is on the line here!”
“I don’t know,” one of the subordinates responded, ashamed. “The math all worked in the test simulations. It must be a mechanical issue.”
“Don’t you put that shit on us!” exclaimed a person from the mechanical side of things. “We triple-checked everything! I’m tired of you math fucks pinning everything bad that happens on us!”
They were all arguing with one another because USA’s planned mission to the moon, which would’ve made Americans the first to step foot there, had come completely unraveled. The rocket would not launch. It just sat there, a dud. And now there was real fear that Russia’s cosmonauts were going to get there first. The billion-dollar totem of their failures sat on a launch pad, useless, staring at them.
“I think I can help,” a voice rang out from the back of the room. Everyone turned to look. It was J.J. Watt: American.
“Who the fuck are you?” asked the Secretary of Space Defense. “That’s not important,” Watt responded. “What is important is getting American footprints on the moon before the cosmonauts can. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“And just how to plan on doing that?” someone asked. “Our rocket has gone to shit.”
“I don’t need a rocket,” said J.J. Watt: American. “Follow me.” And so they did. He led them toward the parking lot. “I’ve got this … ” he said, as he opened the door outside.
“Oh my God,” said someone.
“Is that … ” began someone else.
“Yes,” said J.J. Watt: American.
It was a Ford Super Duty F-350. It had leather seats, and the headrest on each side was embroidered with the preamble to the Constitution.
J.J. Watt climbed inside and started it up, and when he did the whole space center vibrated from its tremendous power. “Now if you boys will excuse me … ” Watt said, and then he punched the gas and the Ford Super Duty F-350 took off down the road and then lifted up off the road and headed right the fuck up into outer space. J.J. Watt steered his way to the moon. When he got there, he took a breath, opened his door, then got out. He stomped his footprints into the surface. “Suck it, Russia,” he said, and then got back in the truck and drove home to America, and he hummed Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American” on his way.
“There you go,” he told everyone at the space center when he got back.
And they all clapped and cheered for him and the high-ranking government official saluted him and J.J. Watt saluted back and when he did another ISIS stronghold fell.
Have you ever heard of stolen valor? That’s when a person who was not in the military dresses up and pretends to have been in the military. It happens more than you think. Or, at least it used to. One time a pretend soldier approached J.J. Watt, who immediately sensed the lie. “What base were you stationed at?” J.J. Watt asked the thief. “I was at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas,” the thief responded, and J.J. grew more and more incensed, because he’d been to Fort Hood and shaken hands with many actual soldiers there. “Listen,” J.J. Watt said. “Would you mind doing me a favor?”
“Of course,” the thief said.
“I have a special connection to the national anthem. Would you mind if we sang it together?” J.J. asked.
“Absolutely,” the thief said.
“The only problem is there aren’t any flags around here,” J.J. said, and he pretended to glance around.
“Yeah, you’re right,” said the thief. “That’s a shame. I lay my life on the line for the flag and there’s not one to be found when I need it. What’s happening to this country?”
“Well,” J.J. said. “I know where to get one real quick. Would you help me get it?”
“Where?” the thief asked. “For sure I’ll help.”
And J.J. smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that.” Then J.J. cocked back and power-socked the thief in the mouth, and the blood splatter and knocked-out teeth made a flag in the air.
“Right there,” J.J. said, and he began singing the anthem.
J.J. Watt was not lying when he said that he had a special connection to the anthem.
The night before he became the NFL’s sack leader for a second time in 2015, Watt was again visited by the ghost of George Washington. “Hello, father,” said J.J. Watt. “Son, America needs you one last time,” said the ghost of George Washington. “How, father?” J.J. Watt asked. And the ghost of George Washington said just one word: “Anthem.” And then he vanished, and the time-travel portal opened up.
The Home of Francis Scott Key, Maryland, 1814
“Goddamnit,” a frustrated Key said to himself. He’d been working on a poem all night; he’d probably been working on it his whole life, really. It was to be one of the defining documents in the history of the country, and would eventually become America’s national anthem. If only he could finish it.
“I’m dying here,” he said to himself. It had been a good eight days since he’d started on the poem, and he was no closer to finding an ending than he was seven days ago.
“I think I can help,” a voice rang out from the back of the room. Key, startled, turned to look. It was J.J. Watt: American.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“That’s not important,” Watt said. “What is important is getting your poem finished. You don’t know this, but it’s vital that you do. It will change everything. It will become iconic. But not if we don’t finish it. So what seems to be the problem?”
“I don’t know how to end it,” Key said. “I need the perfect line.”
“OK,” Watt said. “What do you have so far?”
“Well, the second-to-last line is, ‘O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,’ but that’s it. I’m stuck there. I like everything up until that point. I’m thinking maybe I end with, ‘Liberty is great, I’m glad I’m not in a grave.’ Or maybe, ‘America is cool, right now we have slaves.’ I don’t know. What do you think?”
J.J. took a second, and nothing came to mind. This was a challenge harder than any he’d ever faced. No amount of tire flips could’ve prepared him for this. He closed his eyes. He closed them so tight that everything disappeared: all the noise, the clutter, the hum of the universe. It was gone. There was nothing there. Until there was.
It was his giant bald eagle mother. He remembered her waking him up for school. He remembered the way the house seemed to glow on Thanksgiving after she’d spent the day cooking. He remembered the way she would sing to him before bedtime. He remembered the way she smelled and the way it felt when she would hug him. He remembered all of it. And he began to weep. And the tears, they fell down his face and onto the floor, and as they splashed onto the floor he could hear the echoes of all the American soldiers that had served so proudly. He pictured them all; protecting our liberty, preserving peace; the way they always kept marching forward no matter the amount of fear they had in them. And it hit him.
He opened his eyes.
“I’ve got it.”
“How about, ‘And the home of the brave’?”
“Oh fuck,” Key said. “That’s perfect.” And he dipped his quill into his ink and then wrote the line down on the parchment he’d been scribbling on. Then he turned around to say thank you. And J.J. was already gone. Because patriots don’t need thank-yous. Service is thank you enough.
And through the time portal, just as it was closing, Key could hear the sound of a J.J. Watt salute. With it, a third ISIS stronghold fell.
J.J. Watt: American’s work was done. For now.