J.J. Watt did an interview with Sports Radio 610 this morning, and it immediately spawned headlines like "J.J. Watt may not have many more seasons left in him" on PFT, which in turn led to some Texans fans breaking with reality at the idea of J.J. Watt deciding to stop playing football in the near future.
While J.J. Watt did say that he's not going to play "terribly much longer," as with virtually everything in this world, it's important to note the context in which Watt said it. In short, J.J. Watt said he's a guy who wants to always play at a high level. When he's no longer capable of playing at that level, he'll walk away. He won't be a player who doesn't know when to quit. That shouldn't come as a surprise, as J.J. has said on multiple occasions before that he views his NFL career as a short period of time during which he'll devote himself to being as great as he can possibly be. Speaking of context, here's a blurb from the interview that should stem any tide of panic:
"I can tell you right now that I am not going to be one of those guys that is going to play as long as I possibly can. I have no interest in that. I want to go out there, I want to play at an extremely high level, I want to help my team out and I want to love playing the game and I want to have fun playing the game. I know I don’t plan on playing the game as long as I possibly can. It’s not going to be terribly longer but I am going to play as long as I can enjoy it and have fun."
Additionally, don't forget that J.J. is just one year into the six-year, $100,000,000.00 extension he signed before the 2014 season. Under the terms of that deal, if the the Texans want him to be, J.J. Watt will be a Texan through the end of the 2021 season, when he'll be 32 years old. Granted, the team's possible need to manipulate future salary cap hits muddies any attempt to firmly ascertain what'll happen moving forward, but that's what we know now.
Bottom line: If J.J. Watt keeps playing like J.J. Watt, there's no reason to think he's going to quit the NFL anytime soon. He just turned 27 years old. He has tens of millions of dollars left on his contract. He is unquestionably the best defensive player in the game and arguably the best player in the game. Even when he loses a step--as heretical as that sounds, it'll happen--J.J. Watt is still going to be a force to be reckoned with. It's entirely reasonable to believe that J.J. Watt is only halfway, if that, through his NFL career. I know we're all looking for news during the desert that is the NFL offseason, but this molehill should not be made into a mountain.
You can listen to the entire interview here and judge for yourself. The part where J.J. addresses how long he'll continue to play in the NFL starts around 9:40. When you listen to the entire piece in context, I think it's rather clear that there's no reason to sound the alarm about J.J. Watt calling it a career.
Bonus: To the extent Watt needed to endear himself to Houston fans any further, listen to who he says is the one quarterback he'd love to sack that he hasn't yet. That exchange can be found at 12:08 in the interview.