Why is JJ Watt retiring after 11 seasons? The real reason explained
JJ Watt reveals the reason why he’s retiring and it’s more than just mental stress
Considered one of the best defensive players of all time, JJ Watt was en route to having one of the best NFL seasons of the last couple of years. But on Tuesday, the 33-year-old made a surprising announcement that he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons.
Even his coach, the Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, had “no idea” Watt was planning to do so. But Watt has not made his decision in vain; he’s actually “known for a while” that this was “the right time” to hang up his hat, especially after Arizona’s loss to Tampa Bay on Christmas Day, 2022.
“Happy for him. He seems like he’s in a really good place… What a tremendous player and person and an all-time great in this league,” Kingsbury said. “So, to see him play the way he played the other night and then hear that, I think it’s just a special time for him, the organization, the entire NFL to kind of celebrate him these last two weeks.”
Why has JJ Watt retired from the NFL?
After looking at photos from the disappointing Christmas loss in what has been an even more disappointing season with only four wins and 11 losses, it all came to Watt. Having his wife Kealia and his infant son Koa present after the game, Watt “thought this is perfect. This is the perfect way. It’s [Koa’s] first-ever game. My last-ever home game. I’ve always done things my way from that standpoint. I really don’t want people to leak my own information, so I’ll tell my own story.”
He took to social media to announce his “last ever NFL home game” and news of his retirement, adding that he feels like this is the right time to step down.
“I’ve put so much into the game and the wins and the losses, the mental stress and passion that comes with it, it just weighs on you. It’s heavy, I mean it’s really heavy.”
Watt: “I don’t want my energy to go to that anymore”
Despite Watt’s 9.5 sacks this season, the most since 16 in his 2018 season for the Texans, his team has had more defeats than Watt would like to stomach. “The losses are very tough to take. You live with the highs and the lows, and I’ve always said that I’d way rather live with the highs and the lows than never know in the middle. I’ve got a son now.” He continued with the reasons for his retirement, listing the health issues he’s been having, including the heart scare he had in the middle of the year, which allowed him to reassess his priorities:
“I’ve added some incredible new pieces to my life with my wife and my son that certainly take a lot of my focus and my energy,” Watt said. “But the wins and the losses of every single week and the energy and the force that I put into every single week and the preparation has never changed. I think that’s honestly part of the reason that it’s time to walk away because I don’t want all my energy to go to that anymore.”
The three-time Defensive Play of the Year continued that he’s ready “to watch his son grow up,” spend more time with his wife and get ready for his next challenge, whatever it may be. He added that he’d rather leave the game on a high note than as a washed-up veteran.
Watt leaves the game with a legacy
Watt departs the game after an 11-year, 12-season career with 580 tackles and 111.5 sacks. He holds the Texans’ franchise records for both sacks and forced fumbles, and he’s on track to be admitted to the NFL Hall of Fame, which he would be eligible for in 2028.
He has also made significant contributions off the field, such as raising more than $37 million (in 19 days) in relief funds for the city of Houston following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Watt’s last NFL game comes on January 8 against the San Francisco 49ers.
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