Cameron Wolfe, ESPN Staff Writer 21d

J.J. Watt thankful for Titans donation, but won't take it easy on them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After raising more than $37 million from more than 209,000 donors, J.J. Watt is still at a loss for words when he thinks about the first $1 million donation, given by Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk to Watt's Hurricane Harvey relief fund.

It paved the way for several other teams, celebrities and organizations to follow with six- and seven-figure donations for a fund with an original goal of $200,000.

Watt and his Houston Texans (1-2) host the Titans (2-1) on Sunday, but despite Strunk's generous donation, Watt says he can't take it easy against their AFC South rival.

"I'm going to tell her beforehand I apologize for whatever happens on the field," Watt joked on a conference call Wednesday. "I appreciate the donation nonetheless. I hope the check still clears."

Watt hopes to say thank you to Strunk in person Sunday. He notes she was the first to donate such a large sum of money, and it left him struggling to describe his emotions.

"This was the owner of a rival organization, who obviously has ties to Houston, but it's Tennessee. It's a few states away. For her to stand up and show that type of support, that type of commitment, it was incredible. I still don't have the proper words to say thank you. I'll forever be thankful to her for that."

Watt's desire to start the fund stemmed from a feeling of "helplessness" as the team practiced in Dallas while Houston residents were dealing with the flood and its aftermath. He's now spending Tuesdays to meet and call organizations to make sure the money will go where it will help the most.

"Just making sure that I do all my due diligence and do my due justice because I mean, it's $37 million," Watt said. "I just want to make sure that I'm doing it all the right way and that we take our time and do it right."

On the field, Sunday will be the first time that Watt will face Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in his NFL career because of injuries to one or the other during Mariota's first two seasons. Watt has 15.5 sacks in his 10 career games against the Titans, more than any other team.

ESPN's Sarah Barshop contributed to this story.

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