Surely, it wouldn't be injury, because he was immortal, and surely it wouldn't be a dip on the quality of his play, because, again, IMMORTAL. Unfortunately, the next few seasons revealed that Watt was indeed human, with injuries piling up. Somewhere in there, he snuck in another first team All Pro season in 2018, but eventually he left for Arizona after 2020.
SO we were left here in Houston to wonder (a) what might have been had Bill O'Brien not ruined the franchise, and (b) what would Watt's retirement look like. On Tuesday, we got our answer. The retirement came in a tweet announcing that Christmas Day was his final home game of his career:
Watt will talk in further detail about this decision at some point. Obviously, being a new father probably plays into things, and while Watt was still a very productive player, he was never destined to slide into being some faceless, rotational piece on someone's defensive line to wind down his career. He was going to go out as close to on top individually as humanly possible, particularly for someone whose body has been torn down and put back together again via a few dozen surgical procedures.
Koa’s first ever NFL game.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 27, 2022
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.
Summing up J.J. Watt the player is actually fairly easy. It takes a long time to read through the list of accolades, because his resume, and burst of superstardom on the field, is about as impressive as any in football history. In fact, Field Yates of ESPN.com did the legwork. Here you go:
Summing up everything else — Watt the person, Watt the Houstonian, Watt the philanthropist —- that takes more time, and deserves more space (and will receive that space here in the coming days). For now, Watt takes his place as one of the greatest Houston athletes of all time, a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer (2028 is the first year he will be eligible.), and one of the most philanthropic human beings in our city's history.
J.J. Watt’s NFL career:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 27, 2022
▫️ 3X NFL Defensive Player of the Year
▫️5X first team All Pro, 2X second team All Pro
▫️5X Pro Bowler
▫️Member of the 2010’s All Decade Team
▫️Walter Payton Man of the Year winner after raising millions for Houston following Hurricane Harvey
Salute to you, J.J. Watt! A true all timer. Enjoy retirement. You earned it.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
Nothing but love and respect for one of the best to ever do it in H-Town 🤘— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 27, 2022
We can't wait to celebrate your legacy soon. pic.twitter.com/xsjejwcnlt