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NFL owner, who is also a pilot, jets in to help secure J.J. Watt deal


After weeks of speculation, it was the Cardinals who won the hotly contested race to sign Watt on a two-year deal reportedly worth $31 million, with Bidwell adding that personal touch to take the five-time Pro-Bowler to his new home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I’m very excited. My wife and I are very excited to be here,” Watt told the team’s official Twitter account after landing.

“Mr. Bidwill, [general manager] Steve [Keim], everybody here has been unbelievable so far and I’m just excited to get started. I’m very excited to get started, get to work, get to know the people of Arizona and to go to work, to try and help them win a championship.”

“The one thing that I can promise you is I’m going to work my ass off every single day to make you proud.”

From fans to internet sleuths

Since announcing he would be leaving the Houston Texans earlier this year, there’s been plenty of interest in the 31-year-old’s signature. That frenzied speculation has also transformed fans into internet sleuths as they tried to connect the dots between Watt’s cryptic tweets and potential suitors. Watt simply tweeted: “Free agency is wild.”

Even on the day of his eventual signing there were plenty of twists for fans eager to find out Watt’s final destination.

After one reporter suggested that the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills were the finalists after reportedly finding his Peloton profile which included those teams in his profile, Watt took to Twitter to debunk the rumor, saying he doesn’t even use the buzzy at-home fitness service.

Watt then posted a picture of himself lifting weights in an Arizona Cardinals t-shirt with the caption: “source: me.”

Soon after the Cardinals tweeted the watching eyes emoji, before quickly confirming the news about 15 minutes later, saying that the team had signed Watt to a two-year contract. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team.

A few hours later, Watt tweeted a pair of photos showing he and his wife and professional football player Kealia Ohai Watt preparing to travel aboard the Cardinals’ jet with team owner Bidwell and the caption: “pretty convenient when the owner is also a pilot…”

Watt had spent his entire 10-year NFL career as a member of the Texans, since being drafted out of the University of Wisconsin in the first round in 2011.

He’s been named the NFL’s defensive player of the year a remarkable three times, one of only three players ever accomplish that feat. He was named a first-team All-Pro five times and selected to five Pro Bowls.

In 2017, Watt received the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, viewed in NFL circles as the league’s most prestigious honor, after raising over $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.

Watt will reunite in the desert with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, whose attempt to lure Watt to Arizona appears to have been successful. Hopkins, who moved from the Texans to the Cardinals last year, posted an edited photo of the two of them hugging with the caption: “Let’s finish what we started”.

Meanwhile Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray shared a picture of himself with Watt six years ago when Murray was still in high school.

Dave Close contributed to this report.





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