J.J. Watt Announces Retirement

Arizona Cardinals defensive star J.J. Watt heavily hinted that he is planning on retiring from football at the end of this season. Two days after the team lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas, Watt wrote on Twitter that he has played the final NFL home game of his career.

Sharing a photo of him and his wife, Kealia, and their infant son, Koa, at State Farm Stadium on Monday, he indirectly announced his retirement. "Koa's first-ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game," Watt wrote. "My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It's been an absolute honor and a pleasure." Kealia retweeted Watt's post and wrote, "The greatest. I am so proud to be your wife." Plenty of fans responded with congratulatory messages for the defensive end.

The Cardinals have two games left on their schedule, both of them away games: at the Falcons, then at the 49ers. Watt has been playing some of the best football of his career this season, logging his highest sack and quarterback hit totals since 2018, which is when he received Comeback Player of the Year votes as a Texan. Watt overcame atrial fibrillation earlier this year after he suffered an irregular heartbeat that required his heart to be shocked back into rhythm.

Although the retirement announcement was likely a surprise for many NFL fans, speculation had swirled among the Cardinals fanbase in recent days. Sports reporter Cameron Cox tweeted on Monday that Watt was "tearing up coming off the field" after Sunday's game and that he stopped before he walked off and looked at the field. "Could be his final home game here," Cox wrote. 

The 33-year-old is reaching the end of his 12th season in the NFL. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a Houston Texan, then signed a two-year contract in March 2021 with the Cardinals. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and 2017's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner, Watt will likely find himself enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.