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Arizona Cardinals star defensive end JJ Watt to retire after this season

<i>Cooper Neill/Getty Images</i><br/>JJ Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Getty Images
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
JJ Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

By Wayne Sterling, CNN

Arizona Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, will retire after the 2022 season, he announced on Tuesday.

Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, said he played his “last ever” home game this past Sunday, a 19-16 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude,” Watt wrote on Twitter. “It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”

Arizona’s remaining two games of the season are on the road — at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and at the San Francisco 49ers on January 8.

“The pleasure was all ours,” the Cardinals responded in a tweet.

Known as a dominant pass rusher, Watt is likely bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for which he will be eligible in 2028.

The 33-year-old was named Defensive Player of the Year three times, tied for most in league history with Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

The seven-time All Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, according to the NFL, was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans where he played his first 10 seasons. He owns the Texans franchise record for the most career sacks with 101.

In March 2021, Watt signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals as a free agent.

Watt is well-known for his work off the field.

After Hurricane Harvey devastated areas around Houston and the rest of the Gulf Coast in August 2017, Watt embarked on what would be his most career-defining charitable effort to date.

Through a YouCaring campaign and plenty of social media attention and help from some famous friends, Watt raised more than $37 million for victims of the floods and damage Harvey left behind. Because of his fundraising, he was awarded the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which is given to honor the charity and volunteer efforts of NFL players.

Watt has two brothers, T.J. and Derek, who play in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The three Watt brothers played college football at the University of Wisconsin.

JJ Watt revealed in a social media post earlier this season that he underwent treatment for atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat described by many sufferers as a “quiver,” “flutter,” or “flip-flop” of the heart.

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