His departure will leave big shoes to fill and he will certainly be missed by the fans.
But on the upside, after this season’s record he’ll be going out with his head held high.
And this future Hall of Famer announced he’s hanging up his cleats for good in a sad day for fans.
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt has made it official.
He has announced his retirement, which will happen at the end of the 2022 season.
In a tweet, Watt wrote, “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.”
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, at age 33, is finishing up a good season with a stat line of 9.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, in addition to 33 tackles.
According to NFL.com, Watt has played 12 seasons in the National Football League, with 107.5 sacks total and 514 tackles, 387 of which were solo.
Watt has earned three Defensive Player of the Year awards, as well as the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Andrew Powell of the Daily Caller wrote, “Watt could keep playing if he wanted to, he’s still elite. Maybe he just wants to preserve his body, and I’m not going to knock him for that, but it’s still sad to see him go.”
But it turns out he’s hardly alone in that sentiment.
When speaking of his retirement plans to reporters, Watt said, “I knew it would be crazy” but one reaction really took the cake.
Watt told reporters, “I’m scrolling through it and there’s this number that I don’t recognize that FaceTimes me. So, I’m like, ‘I’m not going to answer a FaceTime I don’t know.’ So, I just let it go to voicemail, and then I get a text from that number. And it’s a voice memo. I’m like, ‘Who is this number?’ So, I play the voice memo, and it’s – I wish I could play it so bad. I wish so bad. A picture comes through, and it’s Jesse Luketa, our rookie outside linebacker, and he has cotton balls in both of his cheeks. He just got his wisdom teeth out.”
The Cardinals star then got the funny voice memo and decided to post it to Twitter.
We've obtained the voice memo @JJWatt @OttawasVeryOwn 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/rA9yHugZ7S
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 29, 2022
In the end, the funny call turned out to be a moment of levity in the wake of the bittersweet retirement news.
Given his career stats, Watt will certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2028, likely becoming the first Houston Texan inducted into the Hall.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.