JJ Watt Says He’s Willing to Return to the NFL If the Texans Need Him: ‘I’ll Be There’

Watt retired in 2022 after playing 12 seasons in the NFL, primarily for the Houston Texans

<p>Logan Riely/Getty</p> J.J. Watt in Houston on Oct. 1, 2023

Logan Riely/Getty

J.J. Watt in Houston on Oct. 1, 2023

JJ Watt officially retired from the NFL in 2022, but the former defensive end may be considering a return to the field if his Houston Texans "absolutely need" him.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle on May 4, 35-year-old Watt said he recently told the Texans head coach, DeMeco Ryans, that he'd answer the call if his former NFL team needed him to return.

"I've had 12 great years in this league and I'm very thankful to have walked away healthy and playing great," Watt began telling the outlet.

The former defensive end who played 10 seasons with the Texans continued, "I mean, I told DeMeco last year, I said, 'Don't call unless you absolutely need it, but if you ever do call, I'll be there,' and he knows not to call unless he absolutely needs it."

That offer is only good for this upcoming season, however, Watt explained.

Since his retirement, Watt has joined the broadcast team for CBS Sports. Still, he told the Houston Chronicle that he's in shape to return should the Texans need him.

"This is the last year I'll tell him that, because I'm not going to keep training the way I've been training, but he knows that if he ever truly does need it, I'll be there for him," Watt shared.

Related: JJ Watt on Why Jason Kelce Has a 'Tough' Retirement Decision: 'It's Very Hard to Walk Away' (Exclusive)

Christian Petersen/Getty JJ Watt on Oct. 24, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen/Getty JJ Watt on Oct. 24, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.

The three-time NFL defensive player of the year added, "I don't anticipate that happening," noting that the Texans have "a very good group" on their roster for the upcoming season.

In Oct. 2023, the Houston Texans celebrated Watt's decade with the team by inducting him into their Ring of Honor at NRG Stadium. He was joined by his son Koa, 1, during the ceremony.

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Speaking to PEOPLE in January, Watt opened up about the emotions surrounding retirement from the sport he loves when asked if he had any advice for now-retired Philadelphia Eagles star, Jason Kelce, who announced his departure from the NFL on March 4.

"It's been the only life that you've known for so long," Watt shared. "Most of us started playing football in fifth grade. So, literally, the majority of your life has been spent playing football."

He explained, "August, you go to training camp, and September, October, and November, you're playing football and trying to figure out if you're ready to walk away from that, and what your life will look like beyond that is very, very difficult."

Cooper Neill/Getty J.J. Watt in Houston on Jan. 3, 2021
Cooper Neill/Getty J.J. Watt in Houston on Jan. 3, 2021

Related: JJ and Kealia Watt Share Their Funny First Date Story: ‘She Did Not Want to Go’ (Exclusive)

Beyond his gig as a CBS Sports analyst, Watt is spending his retirement raising his daughter, Koa, with his wife, Kealia Ohai Watt, 32. In Feb. 2023, she told PEOPLE, "I know he wanted to be with Koa," when asked about her husband's decision to retire.

"When JJ was in season, I know it was really hard for him," she shared. "He genuinely wants to spend time with Koa and it was really hard for him because he was pulled in two directions."

The former Chicago Red Stars soccer player added, "The way it worked out, it was just the perfect time and it couldn't have been better for us and Koa."

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