Former Texans defensive end J.J. Watt knows about fame and after a bout with it, knows better how to handle it, and he has some great personal experience that everyone should hear, no matter what brand of fame they’re being courted by.
Speaking to Pat McAfee, Watt addressed the fact that Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce is experiencing over-exposure to the point where his people are getting worried about how it’s starting to be a drag on his image. To be sure, after some of his actions in the Super Bowl, including nearly knocking over Chief’s Coach Andy Reid in a rage, Kelce’s standing with many has been lessened.
(READ: My Problem With Travis Kelce)
What lesson did Watt learn about his time in the spotlight?
When he became famous, Watt said he was being courted by brands left and right for absurd amounts of money, and when the NFL season finally hit 15 different ads featured him. The money that he raked in was great, but people began growing tired of him and began expressing it. Watt said he began feeling vulnerable and the pressure became too much as he tried to be too perfect and “Captain America.”
He admitted that he didn’t know how to handle this sudden rejection emotionally. Eventually, Watt said he had to stop and reassess.
“I consciously reeled it back and said like ‘Okay, I gotta reanalyze this. I gotta refigure this all out,” Watt recalled.
Watt said it boils down to being naturally who you are which can be really difficult when you’re thinking about what everyone else is thinking about you and you’re hearing about them all the time.
Watt did reel it back and went from being endorsed and featured everywhere to not being seen much more afterward. A wise decision that likely saved his sanity and possibly his public image.
Fame is fickle. One moment you’re the toast of the town, your name in lights, and your face displayed on every television screen and billboard. The next moment, the mere mention of your name causes people to scrunch up their noses and scoff derisively.
For some, the change from fame to infamy happens quickly thanks to an event or discovery of information. For others, the change happens over the slow course of time thanks to over-exposure. No one survives in the spotlight for long, and very few make it out looking better than when they came in.
But the spotlight is still very attractive, and why not? It comes with a lot of recognition, admiration, and money. It’s seductive, but like anything seductive, it winds up being destructive. You’ve likely seen this happen time and again with many kinds of celebrities and you’re likely about to see it start happening now to Kelce who, unlike Watt, is smack dab in the middle of a fame explosion thanks to both his win in the Super Bowl and his relationship with superstar musician Taylor Swift.
If Kelce is smart, he’ll start doing everything he can to reel back his fame on his own accord because if he doesn’t, the public will force him back. Watt’s wisdom to walk the path away from the ancillary fame of his career is one Kelce, and indeed anyone should follow.
The Law of Undulation is absolute.
Fame is fun while it lasts, but no one is truly built for long stays at its height. Eventually, the cost of entering the spotlight is yourself.