One of the greatest defensive backs in recent history will say goodbye to the NFL at the end of the season.
J.J. Watt posted photos after Arizona’s overtime Christmas Day game against Tampa Bay, with a message that it was his son Koa’s first game with him at the stadium and would have been his last home game.
“Koa’s first NFL game. My last home game in the NFL. My heart is filled with gratitude and love. It has been an absolute honor and pleasure,” Watt posted on Twitter.
The Cardinals, with a 4-11 record, have been eliminated for a few weeks and close the regular season outside Arizona, visiting the Falcons and the 49ers, in what will be the last two games of Watt’s career.
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
Lawrence Taylor, Aaron Donald, and Watt are the only ones in NFL history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times. A movie story about the player who was recruited to the University of Central Michigan as a tight end, where he only played one year and with the expectation of going on to play as an offensive lineman, he left the Chippewas and went without a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he went on to play defensively and his performances allowed him to be chosen with the 11th pick of the 2011 Draft, by the Houston Texans.
With the Texans, Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012, 2014 (he was second in MVP voting), and 2015, but injuries began to affect him, playing only 8 games between 2016 and 2017.
In 2021, he left the Texans and arrived in Arizona. With the Cardinals, he made the playoffs, falling in the wild-card round, and his second season in the wilderness has been a disappointment for the entire franchise, despite Watt racking up 9.5 sacks.
With two games remaining, Watt has 111.5 sacks (#26 in NFL history), 580 tackles, 2 interceptions (both returned for touchdowns), 27 forced fumbles and 17 fumbles recovered in his career, which will take him to the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible in five years.
Off the gridiron, Watt was also one of the NFL’s most beloved players. He was the winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017, awarded to the player with the greatest contributions to the community, for what he did for his collection after the devastation caused in Texas by Hurricane Harvey.
Watt is married to professional soccer player Kealia Ohai, with whom he had his son, Koa, in October 2022.