One of the best defensive players in NFL history is hanging up his cleats after the 2022 season. Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt revealed that Sunday was the last home game of his career in a shocking retirement announcement.
Watt, 33, announced the news on Twitter. Watt shared two pictures in the post. The first featured Watt with his wife, NWSL player Kealia Watt, and son, Koa. The second picture featured Watt with Kealia, Koa and Watt’s parents.
In the post, Watt wrote Sunday was Koa’s first NFL game. Then he dropped his retirement note, saying it was also “My last ever NFL home game.”
The Cardinals will finish the season with two road games: against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18.
J.J. Watt is an easy choice for the Hall of Fame
It’s tough to overstate Watt’s impact on the league. He was an absolute menace for quarterbacks, especially early in his career. After being drafted by the Houston Texans with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Watt showed potential immediately, racking up 5.5 sacks as a rookie.
He blossomed into an All-Pro in his second season. Watt led the NFL with 20.5 sacks and 39 tackles for loss. The performance earned Watt his first of five first-team All-Pro appearances and the Defensive Player of the Year award.
The next three seasons were just as good. Watt established himself as the best defensive player in the league over that period. He was named an All-Pro in each of those seasons, and took home two more Defensive Player of the Year awards.
From 2012 through 2015, Watt put up a flawless four-year stretch. He registered 119 tackles for loss, 190 quarterback hits, 15 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, one interception, two defensive touchdowns and 69 sacks. He earned first-team All-Pro honors every single year and won three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Injuries struck in 2016. Watt was limited to three games due to a back injury. He played in just five games in 2017 after fracturing his leg.
Watt returned healthy in 2018 and proved he still had a lot in the tank. He played in all 16 games that season, picking up 16 sacks and leading the NFL with seven forced fumbles. After two years away, Watt again made the All-Pro team.
Watt missed eight games in 2019 due to injuries, but returned to play a full slate of games in 2020, his final season with the Texans.
Following the 2020 season, Watt joined the Cardinals. He was limited to seven games in 2021, though has played in 14 games in 2022. In his final NFL season, Watt has 9.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hits.
If this is truly it for Watt, he won’t have to wait long to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Few players can match Watt’s early dominance. For at least four seasons, Watt was the best defensive player in football. Even after injuries hit, he proved he could still turn in excellent production on the field.
Watt also proved he was an MVP away from the field. When Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Watt put out the call for donations. He raised an astounding $37 million to help the city of Houston. Watt’s efforts affected countless lives. He won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award that season.