Star NFLer JJ Watt indicates he will retire at the end of the season


JJ Watt could be a terrifying presence on a football field, chasing opposing quarterbacks with unprecedented ferocity, especially in the early 2010s with the Houston Texans.

But the 6-foot-5, 288-pound could also be a happy fan favorite, playing sideline wrestling with young fans in the stands before games.

Now, one of the best defensive players in NFL history looks set to make a career out of it.

Watt – a three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year – indicated on Tuesday that he would retire at the end of the season, posting photos of his wife and baby on social media while writing, « The very first Koa’s NFL game. My last NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It was an absolute honor and a pleasure. »

The Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman and his wife, Kealia, became parents in October. Koa is the name of their son.

Watt, 33, was among the best defensive players in the NFL in the early 2010s with the Houston Texans. The former Wisconsin standout was a first-round pick in 2011 and was dominant from 2012-15, ending that four-year streak with 69 sacks, to earn his three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Watt was solid during his rookie season but became a star in 2012, with a stunning 20-½ sacks and 39 tackles for a loss. Its production fell slightly in 2013 before two other big seasons. He had 20-½ sacks in 2014 and 17-½ in 2015.

His output plummeted during the second half of his career, largely due to injuries. He missed big chunks of time in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, but enjoyed a late-career revival with the Cardinals — his 9½ sacks this season are his best since 2018.

Unparalleled Community Efforts

Watt spent his first 10 seasons with the Texans, departing in 2021 as one of the most beloved figures in the city’s sports history. His community efforts have been unparalleled, highlighted by raising over US$40 million for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Sports Radio 610, which is the Texans’ flagship station, set up the JJ Watt Goodbye hotline which received hundreds of messages. The station tweeted a 30-minute montage of the calls, with plenty of lighter fare like the man who planned to name his twins Jay and Jae and another who sang « I will always love you. »

But several men appeared to be choking back tears or actively crying during their messages and a caller from Santa Fe, Texas, thanked Watt for paying for the funerals of the eight students and two teachers who died at a school in 2018 . .

Watt set Texans franchise records in sacks (101), tackles for loss (172), quarterback hits (281) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt has spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals. He’s played some of his best football at Arizona in recent weeks, with three sacks against the Broncos and two tackles for a Christmas loss to the Buccaneers.

The Cardinals and Watt have two games left this season, both on the road against the Falcons and 49ers.

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