In sports these days, we tend to see what’s great right now and either judge it to be all-time great or forecast it to become all-time great. This tendency ties into our collective impatience, I believe.
To Cushing’s credit, he tempered his comments and put qualifiers on them. Unfortunately, along with being impatient, we tend to cut out the qualifiers, hearing what we snip out as the headline.
"The things that he's going to be able to accomplish are unbelievable,” Cushing said of Watt. “When you talk about the potential that he has of really being the greatest defensive player ever, he could be. I know that's very premature, but he's that kind of player.
"I think if he just keeps doing what he's doing and obviously stays healthy, he's on that track."
Reading that, few in the NFL will concentrate on, or even include, the “I know that’s very premature” part.
Of course it is, and Cushing is smart to say so.
In the midst of our impatience and the urge to proclaim all-time greatness, Cushing touches on another feeling all of us tend to share: a great anticipation to see how Watt follows up his hard-to-comprehend, defensive-player-of-the-year season.
Watt’s elbow, injured in the preseason, was still an issue as he recorded 20.5 sacks, 39 tackles for a loss, 42 quarterback hits, 16 passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He should be part of a better team in 2013, with Cushing returning from ACL reconstruction and cornerback Johnathan Joseph healthy after playing through multiple injuries.
Even defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who said early on that he could see Watt becoming a Hall of Famer, said he doesn’t know whether Watt will be able to approach those numbers again.
It sure will be fun to watch him try.