TEMPE, Ariz. — Defensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals, JJ Watt announced in a tweet Tuesday morning that he will retire after this season.
“Koa’s first NFL game. My last NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It has been an absolute honor and pleasure,” he tweeted along with a photo of him holding his son. Koa and standing with him, his wife Kealia at Sunday night’s game between the Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Koa’s first ever NFL game.
My last ever NFL home game.
My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.
—JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 27, 2022
Watt’s 12-year career has two games left, both on the road, against the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.
He’ll walk away as one of the most dominant defensive players of his generation and probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Watt, one of three brothers who played in the NFL, is one of three players to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times, joining Aaron Donald and LawrenceTaylor.
All three awards came when he played for the Houston Texans (2012, 2014 and 2015), the franchise that drafted him 11th overall in 2011 out of Wisconsin.
Watt will end his career with the Cardinals, having signed with them ahead of the 2021 season after spending 10 seasons with the Texans.
Koa, Watt’s first child, was born in October. In late September, Watt ‘reset’ his heart rate after experiencing atrial fibrillation, then played days later.
Watt currently has 111.5 sacks (26th on the NFL career list), a stat that has been officially tracked since 1982. He is also the only player to record 20+ sacks in multiple seasons (2012, 2014).
Since Watt was drafted in 2011, there are only three other players, Von Miller, Cameron Jordan Y Chandler-Joneswho have more catches than him.
He is one of four players with 100 career sacks and five touchdowns. Watt also has had four seasons with at least 15 sacks since 1982, second only to his childhood idol, Hall of Famer Reggie White, who had five.
Watt, who is the Texans’ career sack leader with 101, nearly double the sacks of the next closest on the franchise career list, continues to play at a high level at 33 years old.
Among the 48 players with at least 10 pass breakups this season, Watt leads them all with 28 pressures and is tied with Daron Payne in the most sacks with 9.5.
Watt’s impact, however, went beyond the field.
His foundation has raised $6.7 million since it began in 2010, when he was still in college. His initial goal was to raise $100,000, she recently said on Twitter.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Watt’s foundation raised more than $37 million to distribute to victims. His initial goal for that was $200,000.
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JJ Watt announces that this will be his last season