He was greatly admired by his fans, even though he was playing on the road. On Sunday, the 49ers lost 38-13 to the Cardinals, putting an end to one of his best games of the season. His future in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is promising.
As Watt was pulled from the game at the two-minute warning, he received a standing ovation fron the crowd at Levi’s Stadium.
Watt expressed his gratitude after the game, stating, “I am grateful to the 49ers and their supporters. It was a truly elegant gesture to show such sportsmanship towards an opponent playing in their own stadium while they are heading to the playoffs. I truly value their actions. It exceeded my expectations, especially in that regard.”
.@JJWatt exits the field for the last time in his career. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/exFxZrCyFd
ADDITIONAL: Watt clarifies the timing of his decision to retire.
Watt registered a season-best 22.7 percent pressure rate, as per Next Gen Stats. He concluded the game with a pass breakup, a total of five tackles, two quarterback takedowns, and three tackles resulting in a loss of yards. He potentially delivered his most outstanding display in the final game of a season where he reaffirmed his status as one of the premier defensive players in the league. Watt publicized in December his decision to retire.
In his final NFL game, J.J. Watt generated 5 pressures, 2 sacks and a season-high 22.7% pressure rate. Watt finished his final season in the NFL leading the Cardinals in both pressures (50) and sacks (12.5).#AZvsSF | Powered by @awscloud pic.twitter.com/WL2RgM78eA
Watt said, “That’s it. Opting not to, I can still comprehend. Playing ball well and wanting to go out, I said.”
He said he would be happy to receive the help because he wants to succeed in the organization. He added that he didn’t have a place to share his advice, but he had “thoughts.” He said that he was preparing to leave Arizona, having just wrapped up season 4-13, and asked if he had any advice for the team.
I am happy to help, but I do not want to see this organization go through another year like this. I believe it is possible, but we did not finish those goals last year. The last year was not finished by us, and we were on the path that started when we were 7-0 last year. I want those guys in the locker room to experience the highs of this game and have fun. I don’t want us to go through a season where we have high expectations. I don’t want this organization to be 4-13.
ADDITIONAL: Watt receives ‘unconventional’ retirement present from fans.
He witnessed a video tribute featuring a number of present and past NFL players applauding him for his career. He said he wasn’t emotional when it was announced last week during the team’s practice or last week. It hasn’t been exactly an emotional process for his 12th year as a veteran.
Watt stated, “I never expected to receive such immense respect from opponents, coaches, teammates, and people in general. It means a lot to hear it from my friends and family who are significant in my life. However, the highlight videos are impressive and cool to watch, you know. That second video where I lost, I mean, I was like a crying baby, I absolutely lost it.”
Sometime in the coming days I’ll find the right words. But for right now, all I can say is thank you. You’ve changed my life forever and I am perpetually grateful. 🙏🏼