Videos by OutKick
Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt proved over the last month that there’s still plenty left in the tank. But that doesn’t mean Watt’s ready to reconsider his decision to retire.
Despite finishing his twelfth NFL season with 12.5 sacks, Watt’s ready to move on.
“I know I still can (play),” Watt told azcardinals.com after the season finale. “I’m just choosing not to.”
Watt’s second season in Arizona (he spent the previous 10 with Houston) proved to be his most productive in the last half decade. In addition to his 12.5 sacks, Watt added 39 tackles (18 for loss), and a forced fumble. He missed just one game after missing 10 the a season ago.
Emotions Were Mostly Under Control For J.J. Watt
In looking back at his final NFL game, Watt insisted that the thought of walking away drummed up little emotion prior to Saturday night.
“I have not been emotional through the whole process,” Watt added. “I had not been emotional back when I made my decision, I wasn’t emotional last week really, I wasn’t emotional at the last practice, I wasn’t really emotional at the meetings (Saturday) night. I was just ready to go to bed.
Watt’s emotions finally surfaced – in a big way – when Cardinals defensive line coach Matt Burke rolled tape of a tribute video that was made in Watt’s honor. Among those featured were Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Watt’s brother, T.J., and his wife, Kealia.
“The second that video turned on, I lost it. I absolutely lost it,” Watt told azcardinals.com “I was bawling like a baby, and I didn’t stop until well into the night. I mean, the highlight videos are great, all the plays are cool, but when you hear from the people in your life that are important, from my family, from my friends, and then you hear from people you have the utmost respect for, teammates, coaches, opponents, it hit me in a different way that I never expected.”
Arizona posted the 6-minute video to their Twitter feed late Sunday night.
If Burke and the Cardinals intended to use the tribute video as inspiration, consider it mission accomplished. J.J. Watt finished his final NFL game with a robust stat line of five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed.
Quite the swan song.
Next Stop, Retirement
About the only thing that didn’t go Watt’s way on Sunday was the score. Arizona fell 38-13 to San Francisco. With two minutes remaining, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury pulled Watt from the game. At that time, the 49ers recognized Watt on their video board and fans from the home team raucously applauded the future Hall of Famer.
“I wish the game had gone differently in many ways, but I’m thankful and grateful and I’ll always remember it, that’s for sure,” said Watt.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF