J.J. Watt retires: What are the best plays and moments of his career?
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt announced he will retire after the 2022 NFL season, ending one of the best defensive careers in league history.
J.J. Watt has been one of the best defensive players the NFL has ever seen. He spent 10 seasons with the Houston Texans and is playing his second season with the Arizona Cardinals this year. Watt announced on Tuesday that he will retire after the 2022 season ends. The “quarterback’s nightmare” will play his last two games with the Cardinals before he hangs up his cleats for good.
As impressive off the field as he is on it, Watt has accomplished many NFL milestones since he was drafted in 2011. Let’s take a look back at some of the best plays and moments of J.J. Watt’s 12-year NFL career.
J.J. Watt’s best career moments
1. Watt’s first-ever pick-six against Bengals
In his rookie season as an NFL player, J.J. Watt caught an interception and ran it in 29 yards for the touchdown. It was his first playoff game with the Houston Texans and his contribution helped them claim their first-ever postseason win in the wild-card round against the Cincinnati Bengals.
2. Watt the only NFL player to have multiple 20-sack seasons
J.J. Watt quickly became known as “the quarterback’s nightmare”. In 2012, he recorded 20.5 sacks. Then in 2014, he put up another 20.5-sack season, making him the only NFL player to ever record multiple 20-sack seasons. He was the sack king, leading the NFL in that category in 2012, and finishing second only to Justin Houston (22) in 2014.
3. Watt’s 2014 touchdown run
By 2014, J.J. Watt was already one of the best defensive players in the NFL. That season, the Texans decided to start him on offense, and he caught three touchdown passes while also recording another pick-six and touchdown on a fumble recovery. He finished the season with 20.5 sacks, 29 tackles for a loss, and the five touchdowns.
4. Defensive Player of the Year awards
Between 2012 and 2015, J.J. Watt recorded 119 tackles for a loss, 69 sacks, and 15 forced fumbles. In each of those seasons, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro. He won Defensive Player of the Year three times in those four seasons, in 2012, 2014, and 2015. The only other player to win the award three times was Aaron Donald. In 2014, he was the only player to ever be voted for DPOY unanimously and finished second in MVP voting to Aaron Rodgers.
5. His off-field contributions
J.J. Watt is as good of a human as he is an NFL player - maybe even better. He won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2017, a year he was forced to miss most of the NFL season due to injuries. That year, Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area and caused catastrophic destruction, over 100 deaths, and billions of dollars in damages. Watt donated $100,000 of his own money to the hurricane relief efforts and raised over $40 million in funds. He partnered with Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild homes and provide resources to those who had lost their homes and belongings in the hurricane.
In 2018, Watt visited survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting in the hospital and paid for the funerals of the eight students and two teachers who were killed. In 2019, he sent an elementary school student an authentic jersey after he came to school with a homemade version. Later that year, Watt played ball with a double-amputee who aspires to be an NFL quarterback. Watt is known for his support and contributions to the military, local police and firemen, and racial equality.
Former Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips recognized Watt’s talent before his breakout season in 2012.
“The only players I’ve seen that can do what he can do with his intensity can be found in Canton,” said Phillips.
J.J. Watt will be eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame in 2027, and he will no doubt be inducted at that time.
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