On Tuesday, Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt essentially announced his retirement after the 2022 season. The Houston Texans drafted Watt with the No. 11 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he spent 10 years with the team before joining the Cardinals in 2021.
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year posted a photo with his wife and his son, Koa, on social media that read, "Koa's first ever NFL game. 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. 🙏"
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 made his mark in the NFL both on and off the field, earning honors for both. He is a five-time first-team All-Pro, ranks 26th all-time in sacks with 111.5, was selected for the Pro Bowl five times and was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017. He will leave as one of the best defensive players to play the game.
After his announcement, the NFL world shared their congratulations and memories about the 33-year-old. Here are some of the best reactions:
His brother responded with a gif:
https://t.co/alM0DjDzYr pic.twitter.com/zCQ8gAq2WS— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) December 27, 2022
The Cardinals honored their veteran leader.
The pleasure was all ours 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ijpuHLpPV6— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 27, 2022
Watt had one of the best seasons ever for a defensive player. Here is a look at that year:
J.J. Watt's 2014 was truly one of the most incredible seasons in NFL history— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 27, 2022
29 Tackles for Loss
51 QB Hits
80-yard INT return TD
45-yard Fumble return TD
3 Receving TD (yes, really)
Defensive Player of the Year
2nd in MVP Votingpic.twitter.com/2mAQgBMw3a
Not only did @JJWatt have 20.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in his unforgettable 2014 DPOY season...— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2022
He scored FIVE TDs 🔥 (via @NFLLegacy)pic.twitter.com/xgdavKSP5P
The Texans plan to celebrate his legacy soon.
Nothing but love and respect for one of the best to ever do it in H-Town 🤘— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 27, 2022
We can't wait to celebrate your legacy soon. pic.twitter.com/xsjejwcnlt
Watt will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028. He should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
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
The league's official twitter account mentioned his charity work throughout the years.
Not only was @JJWatt one of the most dominant defenders of his generation, he was also one of the greatest men off the field.— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2022
After Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas in 2017, he raised over $37 million towards relief efforts in just 19 days. ❤️ #WPMOY pic.twitter.com/PyKFchttWF
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers posted a video of Watt and Tom Brady, writing, "Game recognize game."
Game recognize game 🤝— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 27, 2022
Congratulations on a great career, @JJWatt. pic.twitter.com/xRJnCDkD91
UW Madison, where Watt starred collegiately, congratulated the former Badger.
A Badger through and through, and one of the greatest to ever play the game. Our hearts are full for you, @JJWatt. #OnWisconsin https://t.co/gSfSvj8lrG— UW–Madison (@UWMadison) December 27, 2022