'Don't hurt your brother:' How Connie Watt handles having three sons in the NFL

Raising three boys is tricky. Raising three boys who go on to be star football players can be even more complicated.
Sheinelle Jones talks to Carrie Watt on the newest episode of "Through Mom's Eyes."
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By Kerry Breen

Connie Watt is the ultimate football mom, considering she has three sons currently playing in the National Football League.

Her oldest, 30-year-old JJ, plays for the Houston Texans, while 27-year-old Derek plays for the Los Angeles Chargers. And 25-year-old Trent (sometimes called TJ) plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The three are scattered across the country, but Watt is used to the chaos. She gave birth to JJ when she was just 20 years old, and quickly adapted to the challenges of raising multiple boys.

"A lot of people say with three boys, 'Boy, it must have been really hard and they must have fought all of the time,'" Watt told TODAY co-WORD Sheinelle Jones. "And this and that, and I'm like, 'Honestly, they're maitenance-free kids, pretty much.'"

Watt said that even as children, the three boys loved sports. While Watt herself was never the athletic type, her husband was a hockey player, so their sons were on ice skates at early ages. The hockey spirit was so strong that when Watt gave birth to Trent, she and her husband went directly from the hospital to JJ's practice.

"We went right from the hospital to the rink," she explained, laughing. "But it was our life. It just — that's who we were."

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Watt said that when it came to raising three active, athletic boys, she and her husband both had to be strict, detail-oriented parents. To keep order, she had plenty of chore charts, kept an Excel spreadsheet so she could easily change or reassign duties. Things like folding laundry and emptying groceries were non-negotiable.

"I would tell them. I said, "'Well, if you want Dad and I to come to your practices and comes to your games to support you, I have to have help around the house because otherwise I'm stuck doing all the chores,'" she explained. "So that, kind of, sank into them, too. Like, "'Well, yeah. That's probably not fair.'"

Groceries were a bigger task for the household than most, since the boys ate so much food, often eating two lunches and two dinners.

"(In second grade) I had to call the school to say 'Is there a child there that can't afford lunch? Because I think my child is putting it on our account,'" Watt recalled. "She laughed and said 'Oh no, Mrs. Watt. He's actually eating them.' And I said 'Really? He's eating them both?' And she said 'Yes.'"

In the end, though, the discipline, practice, and extra meals paid off. All three boys earned college scholarships before finally breaking into the NFL.

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"First of all, just getting 'em a college scholarship was amazing and the opportunity to play at that next level," said Watt. "And I remember telling each of them, 'There's another child who is gonna be just as good or just a hair after you, so don't blow this opportunity. You know, take every opportunity. Play ever down like it's your last one. And if you're not ready to do that, then move aside and let the next player in.'"

The boys took her advice, and now they play all over the country. The schedules are so complicated that Watt had to create another spreadsheet: this one to keep track of who was playing when. Sometimes, there's an overlap, and she finds herself watching the boys play against each other.

"It's very hard," Watt explained. "They step out on the field and I know only one is going to come out winning the game and the other one is gonna be bummed. And so I just sit there... I don't clap either way. It's very hard. And I always tell each of them before the game, 'Do not hurt your brother.'"

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Even when they lose the games, she's still there for them as moral support.

"I'm there for them," she explained. "My husband will critique the game for them. They'll critique the game for themselves and with their coaches and what have you... I'm just there for moral support and to help them with whatever."

Watt said that one of her favorite moments as a parent was when Trent was drafted, meaning that all three of her sons were NFL players.

"Just to know that all three of them made it, because all three of them had gotten college scholarships and now all three of them were in the same league," she said.

"At the end of the day, each of them are just great human beings, great mentors, great men, great friends, brothers, sons," Watt added. "They're really good people and that means more to me than — you know, I know how we want a Super Bowl, but I really want them to be good people."