Tale of the tape: J.J. Watt vs. Reggie White

September 21, 2015, 4:33 PM

— -- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt put himself in elite company with a childhood hero Sunday.

Watt recorded career sack No. 60 when he wrapped up Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the third quarter of a game Houston would lose 24-17. Watt reached the 60-sack mark in 66 games, second only to Hall of Famer Reggie White, who got his 60th sack in his 47th NFL game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

As a youngster in Wisconsin, Watt idolized White and the Green Bay Packers. Watt's parents even kept a framed photo of White near a collection of Watt's high school and college awards in the basement of his childhood home.

Here's a collection of stats and notes comparing these two legendary defensive linemen:

Scouting report

White: 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. Ran 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in his prime. Incredibly strong, especially in upper body. Equally dominant against pass or run.

Watt: 6-5, 289 pounds. Ran 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds at 2011 scouting combine. Natural run-stopper who has used his hand-fighting skills to develop into elite pass-rusher.

Warm-up act

White: Territorial draft pick of USFL's Memphis Showboats in 1984. He recorded 23½ sacks in two USFL seasons.

Watt: Played tight end as a freshman at Central Michigan. He caught eight passes for 77 yards before transferring to Wisconsin and emerging as a defensive star.


White: Selected No. 4 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1984 supplemental draft -- during which NFL teams snapped up rights to USFL players -- behind Steve Young, Mike Rozier and Gary Zimmerman.

Watt: Selected No. 11 overall in the 2011 draft, behind Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Jake Locker, Tyron Smith and Blaine Gabbert.


White: With a four-year, $17 million contract, the Packers outbid the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns for his services in 1993. It was the first notable transaction in the NFL's free-agency era of and remains arguably the most significant free-agent signing in league history. At the time, the only players who received a higher salary than White were quarterbacks John Elway and Dan Marino.

Watt: Houston signed him to a six-year contract extension potentially worth $100 million in 2014, retaining his rights through the 2021 season.

Finding the end zone

White: Scored two touchdowns on fumble returns with the Eagles, once in 1987 and again in 1992.

Watt: Scored five touchdowns in 2014 -- three on catches while lining up at tight end, one on a fumble return, and one on an interception return. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in a playoff game against the Bengals on Jan. 7, 2012.

Those poor QBs

White: The three quarterbacks he sacked most often -- Phil Simms (15½), Neil Lomax (13) and Trent Dilfer (eight).

Watt: The three quarterbacks he has sacked most often -- Andrew Luck (eight), Blake Bortles (six) and Jake Locker (five).

Best statistical season

White: Recorded 21 sacks, forced four fumbles and scored a touchdown in just 12 games of strike-shortened 1987 season.

Watt: Recorded 20½ sacks, forced four fumbles and scored five touchdowns (three on offense) in 2014.

Pro Bowls

White: Named to 13 Pro Bowls in 15 seasons -- missing out only in his rookie season with the Eagles and his final season with the Panthers.

Watt: Named to three Pro Bowls in first four seasons -- missing out only in his rookie season.

Defensive Player of the Year

White: Won twice, in 1987 and 1998.

Watt: Won twice, in 2012 and 2014.

Hall of Fame

White: Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame on first ballot in 2006.

Watt: Prior to Watt's second season, his defensive coordinator at the time, Wade Phillips, made a bold prediction. "He's going to be a bust -- not a first-round bust but a bust in the Hall of Fame," Phillips told the Houston Chronicle. "The only players I've seen that can do what he can do with his intensity can be found in Canton." Stay tuned.