J.J. Watt tearfully talks heart issue after Cardinals’ win over Panthers
It’s been a week for Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
Coming off another ugly loss and dealing with a nagging calf injury, the lineman had his work cut out for him to improve his craft on the field while also getting back to a place health-wise where he could suit up against the Carolina Panthers.
But after missing the first day of practice, the injury report for Thursday showed Watt was dealing with an illness on top of a calf issue. Despite the addition, though, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was optimistic he could play. It’s not completely out of the ordinary for players to get sick during the week.
Then came Sunday, when Watt got out in front of a leak that was expected to surface: he went into atrial fibrillation on Wednesday and had to get his heart shocked back into rhythm the next day.
It’s been a roller coaster of a week for Watt, who is expecting a child into the world next month.
“For months, we’ve been looking at ultrasounds of our baby boy and they are all extremely happy,” Watt told reporters postgame tearfully. “Then on Thursday, we were looking at an ultrasound of my heart. It was very tough. It’s been a week but I’m happy to be here.”
“I’ve never dealt with anything like it,” the lineman added. “I’ve had surgeries before, I’ve had injuries before and I’ve never been nervous for any of them. Never been scared of anesthesia, never been scared of surgery, never been scared of pain, but when they told me they were going to put me out to shock my heart, I was scared. I’m glad it all worked out, I’m glad I had good people taking care of me and glad I’m here today.”
While no one is sure why Watt went into A-Fib, Watt was assured by cardiologists and electrophysiologists from all over the country that there was nothing more he could do for his well-being other than get back to his normal routine. With A-Fib, it’s unknown if or when the condition may arise again. It could happen tomorrow, 20 years down the line or never again.
“Once my heart was reset they said, ‘You’re fine if you feel comfortable,'” Watt said. “I’d probably be more uncomfortable sitting on my couch at home. (Football) is what I know. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe that’s messed up, but if I was sitting at home watching the boys play knowing that they said I was perfectly fine to play? I would have felt weird. I just did what I know.”
As for the leak? That is something that doesn’t sit well for the 12-year veteran.
“It was just frustrating to me when I got the call saying that somebody was going to report it because … the only people that knew are people that I should trust,” Watt said. “Injuries I don’t care, that’s football. But this one was very emotional for me so it upset me.”
“The boys played good today — I don’t want to take away from the great game,” the lineman added. “The boys played a great game. I’m thankful to be out there with them. Honestly, part of the reason I’m upset that it leaked is because I don’t want to take away from these guys and what they did.”