The Arizona Cardinals‘ season finale this Sunday will see defensive end J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and one of pro football’s most outstanding pass rushers of his generation, play in his final game before retiring after 12 seasons. In the weeks that have followed the announcement of Watt’s retirement, he has been met with a shower of praise, congratulations, and other means of honoring his retirement — including from one fan who gave Watt a rather explicit nod to his roots.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, Watt shared that he had received a package with a taxidermy badger from a fan. The stuffed badger, of course, harkens back to Watt’s Wisconsin heritage. A native of Pewaukee, Watt played college football for the Wisconsin Badgers, where he was a first-team All-American before going on to become the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
While Watt’s legacy as a pro football player lies in Houston, where he became arguably the greatest player in the history of the Texans franchise, he has carried his Wisconsin roots with him throughout his career. That included last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, when Watt wore special cleats honoring his hometown of Pewaukee. Watt recorded a sack in the 20-19 loss, giving him 10.5 on the season — his first with double-digit sacks since 2018 and only his second since a string of injuries following his third Defensive Player of the Year title in 2015.