Yesterday marked a sad day for football fans, but a gleefully happy day for quarterbacks, as a generational talent on the defensive side of the ball announced that he will be hanging his cleats up after this season. JJ Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, announced via Twitter last night that he has played his final home game in the National Football League.
In a post with pictures where Watt is joined by his loved ones on the Arizona Cardinals home field, along with his new son Koa, expressed his gratefulness for his long time in the game.
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 career began as a Houston Texan, and many consider him to be one of the greatest players in that franchise’s history. The defensive end holds the team record for career sacks and forced fumbles, which were an every-week occurrence it seemed as he terrorized QBs and embarrassed offensive linemen.
Watt also enjoyed massive success at the college level in 2010 when he won Co-MVP of the Big Ten Champion Wisconsin Badgers. That strong season saw him become the eleventh pick of the 2011 draft.
Though the twilight of Watt’s career has been spent playing for the Arizona Cardinals, the city of Houston claims him as one of their own. His philanthropic efforts in the city made him a legend, equally as much as his on-field play. As Houston reeled back after being smashed by Hurricane Harvey, Watt began a fundraising effort to rebuild the city. According to Sports Illustrated, Watt raised more than $37 million to rebuild communities in the wake of the storm. He managed to build more than 1,100, which makes it no wonder that his retirement is being met with such an outcry of thankfulness from fans.
On Twitter, Dan Orlovsky of ESPN called Watt “One of the best to ever do it,” and proclaimed that Watt is a likely “first ballot HOF (Hall of Famer).” Eric Lieberman from the Daily Caller chimed in with some stats from Watt’s best season, to put the greatness into perspective.
“I hate how the MVP award has basically become a best QB award. JJ Watt should have won MVP in 2014 with 20.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 Int, 29 TFLs, 3 receiving TDs. Could have also won it in 2012.”
Others also voiced their gratitude for his illustrious career.
“Thanks, @JJWatt. Enjoyed watching you in Houston in person, and remotely in AZ. You’re one of the all-time greats, on and off the field. All the best” – John Mues
“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to watch your incredible career. To say you’ve made outstanding contributions both on and off the field would be an understatement. Thank you for everything, J.J.!” – Lisa Carter Garcia
“Asked you a question at Texans training camp in 2016. You were gracious and sincere. Congratulations on a Hall-of-Fame career. Class act on and off the field.” – Jody Smith
Lastly, the Houston Texans offered this farewell post to their franchise legend.
Nothing but love and respect for one of the best to ever do it in H-Town 🤘
We can't wait to celebrate your legacy soon. pic.twitter.com/xsjejwcnlt
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 27, 2022
Featured Image: By Denverjeffrey – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74320494
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