Former Badgers football star J.J. Watt announces retirement from NFL

Three UW-Madison alumni make TIME 100 List
Courtesy of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association

PHOENIX — J.J. Watt, who terrorized quarterbacks as a Wisconsin Badger and was a star for the Houston Texans, is retiring from the NFL.

The Pewaukee native announced his decision Tuesday on Twitter, saying he had played his “last ever home game.” Watt said earlier this year that he had suffered atrial fibrillation and had to have his heart shocked back into rhythm.

Watt spent two seasons with the Badgers and was part of the 2010 Rose Bowl team. He recorded 11.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss during his time in the cardinal and white.

The Texans selected Watt with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was booed by fans when he walked on stage, but it wouldn’t take long for those jeers to turn into cheers.

Watt started every game of his rookie season in Houston, notching 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss as the Texans clinched their first playoff berth and first playoff win in franchise history.

In 2012, Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the first time, after posting a league-leading 20.5 sacks and 39 TFLs. He would win the award again in 2014 and a third time in 2015.

When Hurricane Harvey left much of Houston underwater in 2017, Watt stepped up and raised money and supplies to help people in need. In total, he raised over $40 million. He was awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his efforts.

Watt recorded 2 interceptions, both returned for touchdowns, during his tenure in Houston. He also forced 25 fumbles, recorded 101 sacks and 172 tackles for loss.

He has spent the past two seasons in Arizona, and has 9.5 sacks and a forced fumble this year.