J.J. Watt may be one of football’s greats, but the star is finally hanging up his helmet. The Arizona Cardinals defensive end, 33, appeared to announce his retirement by tweeting a sweet family photo and touching message to his fans and his team on Dec. 27, 2022.
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.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 27, 2022
In his tweet, J.J. posed on the field with his wife Kealia Ohai and their two-month-old Koa. The baby was bundled up in red, with little earmuffs on while mom looked great in a mint jacket. Dad was ready to go, rocking a sleeveless Nike shirt and knit cap ahead of his game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The game was a bittersweet occasion, as J.J. shared in his post. “Koa’s first ever NFL game,” he wrote. “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.”
His wife retweeted the announcement, calling him “the greatest.” “I am so proud to be your wife,” she went on. Kealia also shared her love on Instagram, posting, “You are the best. I love you” in the comment section.
Though it was a special occasion, the Cardinals lost 16 to 19 to the Bucs. With two games left in the regular season and a 4-11 record, they will not be advancing to the playoffs.
J.J. started his career with the Houston Texans, as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. He played with the team for 10 seasons, before moving to Arizona, where he’s played for the last two seasons. He signed an $11 million, two-season deal with the team after the 2021 season, per USA Today.
Though the star never had the chance to compete in the Super Bowl, J.J. is still one of the most respected players of his time. He’s been awarded Defensive Player of the Year three times, earning the honor in 2012, 2014, and 2015. J.J. also competed in the Pro Bowl five times.