J.J. Watt has been the most dominant defensive player in the league for the balance of his five-year career. Could that half-decade represent the majority of his career?
Watt noted on KILT-AM on Wednesday morning that his retirement could happen sooner than we all think/hope.
Per NFL Media's James Palmer, Watt said he won't be a player who tries to play as long as possible and that he'd only play as long as he's performing as one of the best in the NFL.
It's the stance Calvin Johnson took this year, when he walked away after just nine seasons. Megatron had plenty of gas left in the tank, but injuries took their toll, and the superstar receiver walked away before letting his skills deteriorate. Barry Sanders similarly walked away from Detroit in his prime. As have several running backs like Jim Brown or Gale Sayers. Last season, linebacker Patrick Willis retired after just eight years.
Watt has won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. He has a loooooong way to fall before being considered a mere Pro Bowler. As he displayed last season, even while wearing a cast on a broken hand Watt was better than almost every other defensive lineman in the NFL.
Still, we've seen injuries ravage great players quickly in the past. Watt dealt with a string of health issues in 2015, including reportedly tearing five of core muscles.
It would be a shame to see another Hall of Fame player walk out in his prime, but with the money currently made by professional athletes and the rigor football plays on the body, it's something more players could consider.
Then we'll have to wait for the next transcendent defensive player coming down the line.