The greatest defensive player in Houston Texans franchise history is calling it a career.
J.J. Watt announced on social media Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the 2022 NFL season.
Koa’s first ever NFL game.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 27, 2022
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.
Watt, who recently became a father to son Koa earlier this year, had his baby in attendance for his Christmas Day game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his first NFL home game. But Watt also revealed that it would be his last, as the Arizona Cardinals play their final two games on the road.
“My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude,” Watt tweeted. “It’s been an absolute honor and pleasure.”
Watt was drafted by the Texans with the 11th overall pick in 2011 and became the face of the team during some of the best years in the franchise.
In 2012, a year where the Texans started 11-1, Watt recorded 20.5 sacks and won his first of three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
In 2014, Watt played his best NFL season, matching his career-best 20.5 sacks but also scoring five touchdowns in the process, some on defense and others on offense. No defensive player has come near that total since. His results awarded him with a second Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Watt also finished second in the MVP voting that year to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Watt won his third and final DPoY award the following year in 2015, where he posted another 17.5 sacks, which led the league.
After he was forced to miss 24 games in 2016-17 combined due to injury, Watt rebounded in 2018 with a 16-sack season, his final double-digit sack total as a member of the Texans.
In 2020, Watt played his final year with the Texans, healthy and never missing a game. Then, he went on to play two seasons with the Cardinals.
However, Watt’s defining moment in his career has nothing to do with any of his Hall-of-Fame-level accomplishments. In 2017, when the city of Houston was hit hard by the effects of Hurricane Harvey, Watt’s philanthropy helped revive the city and bring it back on its feet. His organization, the J.J. Watt Foundation, raised over $37 million for those in need, which led him to receive the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Watt will almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he’s eligible in a few years time, and he’s going into Canton as a proud member of the Texans.