JJ Watt announced his retirement from the National Football League on Tuesday, and the Houston Texans joined the football world in celebrating the 33-year-old’s legacy.
“Nothing but love and respect for one of the best to ever do it in H-Town,” the statement read. “We can’t wait to celebrate your legacy soon.”
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
Watt was drafted by the Texans with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and spent the first decade of his career with the franchise. Widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive linemen of all time, Watt received the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in his first five seasons.
The Pewaukee, WI native holds the Texans’ franchise record for both sacks and forced fumbles. He has spent the last two years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, on a two-year, $28 million contract set to expire at the end of this season.
Watt shared a heartfelt message on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, including a picture with his family. “My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure,” he wrote, confirming his retirement from the NFL.
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
Other Houston media figures shared their thoughts on Watt’s legendary career on Tuesday, including analyst John Harris, who said that Watt is “the best I’ve ever seen.”
Even though we covered J.J. Watt every week, we were never NOT AMAZED at what he could do on the field. Between this and the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in 2017, Watt made an impact both on the field and just as much (if not more so) in the community. What a career 👏👏👏 https://t.co/kGHTIr2WA5
— Deepi Sidhu (@DeepSlant) December 27, 2022
He’s the best I’ve ever seen. My 1st yr on sideline was 2014 – I had a sideline view for the greatest season any Houston pro football player has ever had.
He’s gracious & giving, larger than life & an incredible MAN.
The last 2 yr were hard w/out 99.
Salud & congrats @JJWatt
— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) December 27, 2022
Loudest I’ve ever heard NRG. It felt like the cement under my feet was shaking. That is the feeling we chase. https://t.co/l272ZHBmrx
— Stephanie Stradley (@StephStradley) December 27, 2022
Watt’s ultimate decision to retire isn’t yet clear, but the star linemen went into atrial fibrillation in Sept. 2022, and had to have his heart shocked back in rhythm days later. It would make sense that the fan favorite is putting his health and family first.
JJ Watt will retire with two NFL records: two seasons with 20+ sacks and two seasons leading the league in sacks, a record he shares with his younger brother T.J. Watt.