J.J. Watt Outlines Unlikely Circumstances That Could Bring Him Out of Retirement

Oct 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Former Houston Texans player J.J. Watt speaks to the crowd.
Oct 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Former Houston Texans player J.J. Watt speaks to the crowd. / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady's about-face in 2022, the NFL world has become a little skeptical of stars announcing their retirements. Yes, you're done, fans, writers, and sometimes even fellow players wonder, but are you really done?

Defensive end J.J. Watt, 35, appears to be really done.

On Saturday, Watt poured cold water on the idea of a potential return before his annual charity softball game in Sugar Land, Texas.

"I had 12 great years in this league and I'm very thankful to walk away healthy," Watt told reporters. "I told (Houston Texans coach) DeMeco (Ryans) last year—I said, 'Don't call unless you absolutely need it. But if you ever do call I'll be there.'

"This is the last year I'll tell him that, because I'm not gonna keep training the way I've been training."

Watt, by acclamation the greatest player in the Texans' short history, retired after playing 2021 and '22 with the Arizona Cardinals. He finished his career with five All-Pro appearances, five Pro Bowls, and three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Ryans and Watt's playing careers overlapped for one season—2011, when Houston won its first division title.


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Patrick Andres

PATRICK ANDRES

Patrick Andres has been a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated since 2022. Before SI, his work appeared in The Blade, Athlon Sports, Fear the Sword, and Diamond Digest. Patrick has covered everything from zero-attendance Big Ten basketball to a seven-overtime college football game. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.