HOUSTON - The NFL's best defender loves Canada. Loves Poutine. Loves Tim Hortons.
And he grew up on skates, dreaming of becoming an NHL star.
In an interview Friday with QMI Agency, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt revealed that hockey probably was his first love as a kid growing up in Pewaukee, Wis.
"Hockey is STILL possibly my favourite sport," Watt said. "I skated at age 3. So from age 3 to 13, I was on skates every day. I loved it."
Watt, a tremendous all-round athlete, played rep hockey. He travelled to tournaments as far away as Germany. And, often, in Canada.
"I'm a huge fan of Canadians," Watt said. "I was up there all the time. I used to play all over. I've played in Quebec City, I've played in Montreal, I've played in Toronto. Went to the Hockey Hall of Fame a few times.
"I love it there. Great place, great people. And I love Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is one of my favourite things I've done! And then what city has the fries and ... gravy, is it?
Yes, gravy. And cheese curds. Poutine. That was probably in Quebec.
"Yeah. It's delicious! It's not healthy whatsoever, but it's delicious."
Watt, 23, might be 6-foot-5, 295 pounds now and more solid than a iron ice-rink stanchion, but he implied he was a pretty good player -- fast on his skates.
"I was a centre. I was small then, so I was a goal scorer."
So what happened when he turned 13?
" It got very expensive for my family," Watt said. "I used to play in Germany, too, and everywhere. It got really expensive, and so that was the reason I had to quit."
Watt said he was "super sad" about it.
Could the uber-confident, high-intensity Watt have made it to the NHL?
"I'd like to think so. I'll definitely be in an old-man league when I'm done playing football."
That was the sound of a million Canadian beer-leaguers gulping.