Arizona Cardinals star J.J. Watt made a shocking retirement announcement on Tuesday.
The NFL star tweeted to his 5.6 million followers a picture of him holding his infant son Koa with his wife Kealia Watt after the Cardinals lost the Sunday game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-16 in overtime.
“Koa’s first ever NFL game,” Watt tweeted. “My last ever NFL home game.”
“My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude,” he added. “It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”
Koa’s first ever NFL game.
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.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 27, 2022
News of Watt’s retirement comes after the Cardinals failed to add another win to their season. The Arizona team’s record now stands at 4-11.
Watt’s 12-year NFL career beginning in 2011 took him from the Houston Texans, where he spent the majority of his career as one of the top defensive players in the league, before signing in 2021 with the Cardinals before the season, ESPN noted.
The Cardinals’ defensive lineman was named Defensive Player of the Year three times when he was with the Texans, the outlet noted. He is one of only three players to manage that; the others were Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald. He is also the only player to record 20-plus sacks in multiple seasons, ESPN noted.
Shortly after Watt tweeted he was walking away from the game, the Pro Football Hall of Fame wrote that the NFL star would be eligible for the 2028 class.
“Following [J.J. Watt]’s announcement that he will retire after this season, we can confirm that he’d first be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028,” the tweet read.
Following @JJWatt's announcement that he will retire after this season, we can confirm that he'd first be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028. pic.twitter.com/OQt6sOf66P
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) December 27, 2022
In October, he and his wife welcomed their first child together, a son named Koa James, People noted.
“Love and happiness have reached heights we never even knew existed,” Watt wrote on Instagram at the time. “Koa James Watt 10.23.22.”
J.J. and Keila, a professional soccer player, will celebrate their third wedding anniversary in February.
Watt will also be remembered for his off-the-field support for his community after his foundation, started in 2010, raised more than $37 million for victims of Hurricane Harvey, the outlet noted.
Related: J.J. Watt Gets Emotional Following Emergency Heart Procedure: ‘I Have A Baby On The Way’