Ron Wolfley says Cardinals will miss J.J. Watt ‘in a big, big way’

Jan 9, 2023, 8:00 PM

J.J. Watt of the Arizona Cardinals acknowledges the crowd after his final NFL game, a loss to the S...

J.J. Watt of the Arizona Cardinals acknowledges the crowd after his final NFL game, a loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Jan. 8, 2023, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals are losing a potent force on and off the field with the retirement of J.J. Watt, team radio analyst and host Ron Wolfley said Monday.

“This is a guy that his achievements on the field are legendary and yet that may actually be overshadowed by his achievements as a leader off the field,” Wolfley told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show a day after the star defensive end played his final NFL game.

“The intangibles that he brings, he is a culture unto himself.”

Watt, 33, had two sacks in Sunday’s 38-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, bringing his total to 12.5 in his second season with the Cardinals. It was the fifth-highest sack total of an illustrious 12-year career that included three Defensive Player of the Year awards.

“The Arizona Cardinals are going to miss J.J. Watt in a big, big way,” Wolfley said. “What an incredible game by J.J. Watt, can I just say that? Watching it, I kind of geeked out.”

Watt, who played his first 10 seasons with the Houston Texans after starring at the University of Wisconsin, announced that this would be his final campaign with two games remaining.

The Cardinals finished the year with seven consecutive losses, dropping their record to a disappointing 4-13. The team fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury on Monday morning and announced that Steve Keim would not be returning as general manager.

Wolfley, who played as a fullback in 10 NFL seasons, said one influential player like Watt can have a bigger impact on a team’s culture than its coaches.

“It starts with an individual and then hopefully you get it to a second guy and then a third and fourth,” Wolfley said. “And before you know, it takes over your team.

“That’s what culture is, and it is the baseline to any professional sport you’re going to play in.”

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Ron Wolfley says Cardinals will miss J.J. Watt ‘in a big, big way’