Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt announced on Tuesday morning that he is retiring from the NFL when Arizona’s season ends Jan. 8.
Watt, who was originally drafted by the Houston Texans out of Wisconsin in the 2011 NFL draft, has 111.5 career sacks — including 9.5 this season. He is one of three players in NFL history, along with Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, to win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times. Watt won the award in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Watt also won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2017 for his work to help Houston recover from damage during Hurricane Harvey.
Not only was @JJWatt one of the most dominant defenders of his generation, he was also one of the greatest men off the field.
After Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas in 2017, he raised over $37 million towards relief efforts in just 19 days. ❤️ #WPMOY pic.twitter.com/PyKFchttWF
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2022
Five years ago, in the days following Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, I went to Houston to witness @JJWatt‘s fundraising efforts. He helped raise more than $37 million, changing my perspective on the impact athletes can make. His legacy extends beyond the field. Our interview: pic.twitter.com/EUwWOLG3QT
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 27, 2022
Pro soccer player Kealia Ohai, whom Watt married in 2020, tweeted to congratulate her husband. Watt’s brother Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt shared the emotional Michael Scott meme.
The greatest. I am so proud to be your wife ❤️💙 @JJWatt https://t.co/OwnvsueCB5
— Kealia Ohai Watt (@KealiaOhai) December 27, 2022
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) December 27, 2022
Watt was an All-American for the Wisconsin Badgers and led the team to the 2010 Rose Bowl.
A true Badger legend. Thank you for making Wisconsin proud.
You’ve earned everything, including some well-deserved time with your beautiful family!#OnWisconsin https://t.co/G6fYHSvJ6V
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 27, 2022
Others from around the sports world congratulated Watt for his remarkable career.
Following @JJWatt‘s announcement that he will retire after this season, we can confirm that he’d first be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028. pic.twitter.com/OQt6sOf66P
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) December 27, 2022
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 27, 2022
Great respect for JJ Watt’s body of work both on the field and off. A total class act. Well done brother!
— Rich Gannon (@RichGannon12) December 27, 2022
One spot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 2028, is claimed by JJ Watt with the announcement today of his retirement.
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) December 27, 2022
Training at EXOS in az pre combine to 12 seasons later Salute to one of the greatest from draft class ’11! https://t.co/4CDmM3vUoU
— cameron jordan (@camjordan94) December 27, 2022