'The energy is palpable, you can feel it': J.J. Watt excited to join the Arizona Cardinals

Posted at 2:30 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 16:56:44-05

GLENDALE, AZ — "I just want everybody to know how excited I am and how fired up I am to be here, and how motivated I am to help take this team to the next level."

That's how J.J. Watt opened up his 25-minute introductory press conference earlier this week, and "excited" was a word that Watt used often after officially signing on for the next two years as an Arizona Cardinal.

Watt had many suitors for his services, but the chance to team up with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, play alongside Chandler Jones and Budda Baker, and reunite with Vance Joseph were too intriguing.

"At the end of the day, Arizona, with everything that's going on here, and the amount of talent that they have, and the opportunity that sits in front of them," said Watt.

It also doesn't hurt that the Cardinals put on the full-court press in their recruiting of the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"I give them credit, they attacked from all angles," Watt said. "I think Steve [Keim] and Michael [Bidwill] and everybody did a great job. There were players, there were coaches, there were non-football people that reached out and were in my ear and trying to convince me to come down here and tell me all the great things about it. And not only on the field, but sending me pictures of Paradise Valley and everything off the field as well. So the recruiting pitch was strong and heavy. But I at the end of the day, I told my wife all signs just kind of kept pointing back down here to Arizona, and in my short time here on the ground, I can tell you that I'm absolutely pleased and couldn't be happier with my decision."

Watt is just the latest big-name athlete to land on a Valley sports team roster in the last year, joining Hopkins and Chris Paul of the Suns.

"The energy is palpable, you can feel it. There's definitely an excitement, there's an energy in the air. And I'm very excited to be a part of that. And I'm excited to cultivate and help to grow and help that energy only get bigger," said Watt.

Defensively, the combination of Watt and Chandler Jones as pass rushers pairs the two sack leaders in the NFL over the last nine seasons. What does Watt think of the task for opposing offenses?

"I'm glad I don't have to deal with the headache of blocking that. That's what goes through my mind," said Watt.

But being that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, Watt's decision hinged in large part on Kyler Murray, who he said he texted on Monday to say he's coming to Arizona because he believes in him.

"He's been a winner at every stage of his life, and that's not a coincidence. You're a winner because of the way that you work and because of the aura that you give off and because of the talent that you have," Watt said. "I think that he has all those things, and he's going to continue to win and continue to have success."

Watt will wear the #99 that he donned in Houston for the last decade, despite that number being retired by the Cardinals organization for Marshall Goldberg.

The newest Cardinal said he had spoken to Goldberg's daughter, Ellen, who said that her father would be honored if Watt wore the number.

"I told her that I would do everything in my power to honor him and to make him proud and make his legacy proud," said Watt. "I want to make sure that people know the name and are aware of Marshall Goldberg and everything that he did, including his time in the Navy in the middle of his NFL career. So I appreciate that. I appreciate the family and I want to give a big thank you to them."

Watt will make a donation to the Marshall Goldberg Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury Research. He also said he has a project in the works with the Pat Tillman Foundation.