Cardinals’ J.J. Watt thankful for ‘unbelievable’ NFL career

TEMPE, Arizona — Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman JJ Watt wasn’t sure he was going to tell the world he was retiring until he hit “Tweet” Tuesday morning.

The future first ballot Hall of Famer has known for a while that this would be his last season, Watt lasted over 16 minutes at Wednesday’s press conference. I think a lot of people don’t believe him.

After seeing a photo of his wife Kealia and 2-month-old son Koa on the field together after Sunday night’s game, it’s the perfect time for Watt to announce he’s retiring after 12 seasons. He said he understood. .

“I was very lucky, very lucky,” Watt said. “I’ve been playing this game since I was 10 years old and it’s been an incredible experience. To those who have achieved some of the things I have achieved and have had the life I live, I am very grateful and probably would have said you are a crazy mother.

Ultimately, Watt said he believes this season is the right time to retire.

Watt cited the birth of his first child as one of the factors that contributed to his decision. Similarly, Watt’s episode of atrial fibrillation also caused his own heart rhythm to reset in late September.

His last home game on Sunday night coincided with his son’s first home game.

Cardinals head coach Cliff Kingsbury said the team didn’t know Watt would announce his retirement on Tuesday.

Watt was appreciative during Wednesday’s walkthrough practice, Kingsbury said, adding, “We gotta hang out with him and see what he’s about and how he works. for the time when it won’t [and] Just the relentless pursuit of excellence every day he appears in this building. ”

Watt added that he was “extremely” relieved about his retirement.

“I spent a lot on games,” he said. “Victory, defeat, the mental stress and passion that comes with it. It just weighs on you. It’s heavy. I mean, it’s really heavy. And I always say I’d rather live with the highs and lows than not knowing the middle ground.”

Watt will retire without a Super Bowl ring, a fact that once haunted him.

“There’s definitely a big part of me that’s always been sad, disappointed and frustrated that I didn’t win a championship, so it’s definitely something I’ve been working on trying to put my career into perspective,” Watt said. said. “It’s been a burden for me for a very long time.”

He eventually changed his outlook on his career.

“Then, at some point, it also gave me the perspective of saying, ‘Look back and think about what you’ve achieved if you were a kid and would be proud or grateful for that.'” Watt said. “That’s why I say I’m walking away with nothing but love and gratitude. Did I win a championship? No. But I literally have a dream where millions of people are killed.” I have a job that everyone loves..I’ve literally made it possible to do things I never dreamed possible.So you may not have a trophy, but it’s okay. .I appreciate it very much.”

Watt said he doesn’t know what the next season will bring, but he doesn’t regret retiring while still playing good football. , helped Watt accept that reality.

“Knowing I can still play and people remembering that I was playing good football, rather than limping out and getting kicked out and knowing I probably should have done it sooner. Watts is half a sack away from his first double-digit sack season since 2018, despite double-teaming 37% of his pass rushes this season. , the highest percentage of an edge defender in the NFL.

He wants to spend more time with his wife and son, but it’s unclear if they’ll stay in Arizona or move back to Wisconsin or Houston. I was certain that the network had contacted me about becoming an analyst.

“I am young,” Watt said. “I don’t want to lose it. I’m 33. I feel young. I have life in front of me and I feel great. My body feels great. I look forward to the future.”

Quarterback Colt McCoy said he learned of Watt’s retirement pending while they were having breakfast Wednesday morning. , and said that “Wednesday Breakfast” may have happened months ago.

“I told Colt a long time ago,” Watt said. “That’s a good boy from Texas.”

After announcing his retirement, Watt put down the phone. he knew what would happen next.

After he and his wife took their son to the pediatrician, Watt checked his phone to see how things were going. A number he didn’t recognize tried to FaceTime him, which Watt ignored. Then, the same number sent me an incomprehensible voice memo.

Finally, a selfie of rookie linebacker Jesse Luketa appeared with cotton stuffed into his cheeks after having his wisdom teeth removed.

Shortly after Luqueta awoke from anesthesia, Watt was told he had retired. His first instinct was for him to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times on FaceTime. When that didn’t work, Luketa, still under the influence of sedatives, sent a voice note saying, “I heard you’re retiring. All I want is a jersey at the end of the season.”

Four hours later, Luqueta texted Watt to apologize, but still demanded the jersey. Watt could only laugh.

“He’s got the jersey,” Watt said. “I said to him, ‘You got the jersey. You made my day. You won all day.'”

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