ARIZONA CARDINALS

J.J. Watt says he’s retiring from the NFL after this season

Dec 27, 2022, 9:12 AM | Updated: 10:18 am
J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts aari at State Farm Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Gle...

The Arizona Cardinals’ last two games of the regular season appear to be J.J. Watt’s last two as an NFL player.

The defensive end announced Tuesday on Twitter that his game on Christmas against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was not only his son Koa’s first in attendance but Watt’s last home game. The Cardinals have two remaining regular season games, against the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, both on the road.

“Koa’s first ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game,” Watt wrote. “My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”

The 33-year-old has 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss with 21 quarterback hits and six passes defensed this season, his second with Arizona.

For his career, Watt has posted 111.5 sacks, 580 tackles, 27 forced fumbles and two interceptions over 149 games played.

Watt spent his first 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Texans after being a first-round pick in 2011.

He is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2012, 2014, 2015) and five-time First Team All-Pro (2012–2015, 2018).

Watt is likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

It’s been an emotional season for Watt, who came off a serious shoulder injury in the middle of last season and witnessed the birth of his son.

In late September, Watt went into atrial fibrillation and needed his heart to be shocked back into rhythm. That experience next to waiting for the birth of his son impacted Watt at the time, even though he didn’t miss a game.

“For months, we’ve been looking at ultrasounds of our baby boy and they are all extremely happy,” Watt told reporters tearfully after he returned on Oct. 2 against the Carolina Panthers. “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.”

The emotions also came out on Christmas, an indicator he was savoring the moment.

Watt has been on a tear lately. Watt is having his best season since 2018 despite dealing with COVID-19 at the end of the preseason and missing the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs with a calf issue but has played the last 14 games.

His best game came two weeks ago with a three-sack effort against the Denver Broncos.

Watt’s contract is set to expire after this season.

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