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Cardinals' J.J. Watt on Retirement Announcement: 'It Feels Like the Right Time'

Erin WalshDecember 28, 2022

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 25: Defensive end J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up before the NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at State Farm Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Buccaneers defeated the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt announced Tuesday that he would be retiring from the NFL after the 2022 season, and he opened up about his decision to hang up his cleats on Wednesday.

Watt told reporters he had been preparing for the announcement, per NFL.com's Nick Shook:

"I've known for a little while. It's the right time. It feels like the right time. I've put so much into the game and the wins and the losses, the mental stress and passion that comes with it, it just weighs on you. It's heavy, I mean it's really heavy.

"The losses are very tough to take. You live with the highs and the lows, and I've always said that I'd way rather live with the highs and the lows than never know in the middle. I've got a son now. Obviously, I had a heart scare in the middle of the year, so there's certainly some of that that played into it. But I'm very happy and am very at peace with it."

Watt announced Tuesday that Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was his final home game at State Farm Stadium. He'll play in the team's final two games against the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.

Sunday's game marked the first time Watt's son, Koa James Watt, who was born in October, was in attendance for one of his games.

JJ Watt @JJWatt

Koa's first ever NFL game. <br>My last ever NFL home game. <br><br>My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It's been an absolute honor and a pleasure. <br><br>🙏🏼 <a href="https://t.co/wXbDUcHM8B">pic.twitter.com/wXbDUcHM8B</a>

The health scare Watt referenced in his comments occurred a few weeks before his son was born. He was sent to the hospital because of atrial fibrillation which required doctors to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm.

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Wednesday that he had "no idea" Watt was going to announce his retirement this week. The veteran defensive end's contract is up after this season.

Watt has spent the last two seasons with the Cardinals after spending the first 10 seasons of his career with the Houston Texans, with whom he won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, earned five Pro Bowl selections and five first-team All-Pro honors.

During his first season in Arizona, Watt was limited to just seven games before tearing his labrum, bicep and rotator cuff. He also dislocated his shoulder.

In 14 games this season, the 33-year-old has posted 9.5 sacks, six pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 33 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and 21 quarterback hits. He'll get the opportunity to add to those numbers through the team's final two games of the season.

Unfortunately, Watt won't get one last chance to go for a Super Bowl title as the 4-11 Cardinals have already been eliminated from playoff contention.