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Cardinals’ J.J. Watt announces retirement: ‘It’s been an absolute honor’

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) alongside Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Five-time All-Pro J.J. Watt announced his retirement after 12 NFL seasons on Tuesday.

The defensive end posted a photo of himself with his wife, Kealia, and their infant son, Koa, to social media with the following statement:

“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.”

The photo was taken at the Arizona Cardinals’ Christmas Day overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Watt has two road games left with the Cardinals — Sunday at Atlanta and Jan. 8 at San Francisco.

Watt, 33, leaves behind a legacy of greatness on and off the field. A five time Pro Bowl honoree, he also was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2010s Team and three times selected the Defensive Player of the Year. In 2017, he was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year and the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year after he spearheaded a fundraising effort that brought in more than $37 million in Hurricane Harvey relief for the Houston community, where he played with the Texans.

The Texans selected Watt with the No. 11 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, and he spent 10 seasons there. The Wisconsin native signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals before the 2021 season.

In his first five seasons, he was a dominant and feared defensive force, twice posting 20-plus sacks and winning Defensive Player of the Year honors 2012, 2014 and 2015. But serious injuries limited him in four of the next six seasons, and he lost a half-season or more in each of those four years.

For his career, Watt has appeared in 149 games (all starts), with 580 tackles (191 for loss), 313 quarterback hits and 111.5 sacks. He also intercepted two passes — returning both for touchdowns — forced 27 fumbles and recovered 17, and broke up 69 passes.

As a weapon on offense, he also caught three passes for four yards — and three touchdowns — with the Texans in a dominant 2014 season.

In 14 games with the Cardinals this season, Watt has made 33 tackles (14 for loss) and posted 21 quarterback hits, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media