We found out via a tweet that J.J. Watt is calling it a career after 12 years in the NFL. Ten of those seasons were spent in Houston during a Hall of Fame run that will never be forgotten.
It's urban legend that J.J. Watt got booed on draft night. It was just a smattering. I was right there. And the fans didn't quite understand what and who they were getting.
Wade Phillips had just arrived as defensive coordinator and the Texans were switching to a 3-4 and would surely need a speed demon pass rushing outside linebacker. They needed someone to get to the quarterback.
Little did the fans at the draft party know that they were witnessing the selection of one of the greatest defensive players ever.
It was the lockout year of 2011. We'd have to wait until training camp to see him in uniform. When we did he was impossible not to notice.
That camp, he blocked countless passes and as Cal McNair told me at the time "Nobody can block him."
He had a solid rookie season but it wasn't until the playoff debut and legendary pick-6 that he exploded onto the national landscape. He won Defensive Player of the Year honors three of the next four years.
He caught touchdown passes. He scored on defense. He relentlessly harassed the quarterback. He loved Houston.
He was ours but he was a national star as well. He guest stared on everything from New Girl to Bad Moms to The League to hosting Saturday Night Live.
He played catch with kids before the games. He made people's day countless times.
Most importantly, he's a great man and the Texans and Houston are better because he worked here. His work raising dozens of millions after Hurricane Harvey will be talked about for years, maybe hundreds of years. And he won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award because of it.
He's helped many more people than you know about. Sometimes his efforts have gotten publicity. Sometimes it was just between him and the beneficiaries.
I'll always miss the big moments. Gary Kubiak once said "He's kind of like a quarterback, where if you need a big play, he makes it." Amen.
Time and time again Watt came up with a mega sack or takeaway that would turn a game around. We mentioned the pick 6. In the 2019 playoffs, he sacked Josh Allen to stop a drive. The stadium erupted. The team came back from a 16-0 deficit, thanks in large part to the fuse he lit.
He's one of the most beloved athletes in this city's storied history. Like many of us he wasn't born here but 'got here as fast as he could.' At the same time, we all know a little bit more about Wisconsin because of him.
He might have played somewhere else the last couple of seasons but to us, he'll always be a Texan.
Nothing but love and respect for one of the best to ever do it in H-Town 🤘 We can't wait to celebrate your legacy soon.
Former Houston Texans DL J.J. Watt announced that he will be retiring after the 2022 NFL season.