Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt has announced that the final two games of the 2022 NFL season will also be the final two games of his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year made the not so shocking announcement via Twitter on Tuesday.
“Koas’ first ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an honor and a pleasure,” Watt tweeted with a picture of him and his family.
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 illustrious NFL career will finish up with road games at the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. The former Wisconsin Badgers star has one of the most dominant defensive players ever, and arguably the second-best of his generation behind Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald.
Watt’s time in Arizona had been pretty forgettable until this season, as he’s tallied 9.5 sacks and 28 QB pressures. But during his time in Houston, which drafted him 11th overall in the 2011 NFL draft, he was an immovable force for those Texans defenses. His dominant play helped turn a dormant franchise into consistent playoff contenders. Watt’s leadership and relentless play is what made him so special.
Watt’s Three DPOY Awards Put Him In Rarified Air
Winning one DPOY award is a huge accomplishment, but try three in a single career. Watt did that and is one of only three players to accomplish the feat, joining the aforementioned Donald, and former New York Giants legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, who’s recognized by many as the greatest defensive player to ever set foot on the gridiron.
Watt’s three awards came in a four-year span, 2012, 2014 and 2015. During those three seasons Watt racked up 58.5 of his 111.5 career sacks, which is good for 26th all time on the league’s career sack list. In fact, the only players with more sacks than Watt since he entered the league are edge rushers Von Miller, Cameron Jordan and Chandler Jones.
Since 2011 Watt leads the league in batted passes, and is second and third in fumble recoveries and forced fumbles. Those type of stats just show how dominant and relentless the former Wisky Badgers star was.
His total of four seasons of at least 15 sacks ranks second all time, tying him with his idol “The Minister of Defense,” aka Reggie White.
— NFL Legacy (@NFLLegacy) December 27, 2022
Injuries Derailed An Even Greater Career
Watt’s numbers his first five seasons were on an all-time trajectory. In his first five seasons Watt totaled 74.5 sacks, and then injuries cost him. After playing in his 80 games, (five seasons) to begin his career, Watt has missed 41 games over the past seven seasons due to a myriad of injuries.
Not only was @JJWatt one of the most dominant defenders of his generation, he was also one of the greatest men off the field.
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2022
This season he’s played in all 14 games for the underwhelming 4-10 Cardinals, but he’s also resembled some of the play that made him so great.
Watt’s work stretches far beyond the field. In 2017 as Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city of Houston and surrounding areas, he went into action. His foundation which started when he was in college initially looked to raise $200K to help. That number rose to an astounding $37M in relief funds.
Not only a great player, but great philanthropist as well. Hats off to J.J. Watt on a great career.