MIAMI (AFP) — Three-time National Football League Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt said on Tuesday that he would retire from the game at the end of this current season.
The Arizona Cardinals defensive end, who spent 10 years with the Houston Texans, wrote on Twitter that Sunday’s defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was both his newborn son Koa’s first NFL game and Watt’s “last ever” home game.
“My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure,” Watt said.
The 33-year-old joined the Cardinals in 2021 and has started in the last 14 games for Arizona.
The Cardinals’ remaining two games this season are on the road at Atlanta and San Francisco.
Watt said he had gone into atrial fibrillation in September and had to have his heart shocked back in rhythm.
As well as being chosen the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, in 2012, 2014 and 2015, Watt was an All-Pro seven times, and was the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2017.
Certain to be a Hall of Famer, the powerful and athletic Watt has 111.5 total sacks, 580 tackles, 27 forced fumbles in his career.
Watt is the only player since 1982 with 20-plus sacks in multiple seasons — 20.5 in 2012 and 2014.
Off the field, Watt has won widespread praise for his community and philanthropy work. In 2019 he helped raise $37 million for his Hurricane “Harvey” relief fund, with the money helping to rebuild more than 1,183 homes in the Houston area.