J.J. Watt was bound to get hit with a tidal wave of well-wishes after announcing his retirement, but the best one came from within the Arizona Cardinals organization.
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and future Hall of Famer told reporters Wednesday that after going public with his decision to retire after this season, he received a FaceTime call from an unknown number, which turned out to be Cardinals rookie linebacker Jesse Luketa.
Mr. Luketa was calling because he learned of Watt's retirement while still under the effects of anesthesia from wisdom tooth surgery. His one request: a signed jersey from Watt at the end of the season.
On Thursday, the Cardinals released some video of Watt telling the story and, thankfully, the actual voice memo and text exchange:
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 29, 2022
Watt's recollection of the events"
"I posted the tweet yesterday and then I just kinda put my phone down because I knew it would be crazy ... I'm scrolling through it and there's this number that I don't recognize that FaceTimes me. I'm like 'I'm not going to answer a FaceTime that I don't know.' So I just let it go to voicemail, and then I get a text from that number. It's a voice memo. I'm like 'Who is this number?"
"So I play the voice memo — I wish I could play it so bad. I wish so bad. I'm gonna ask him. I'm gonna ask him if I can later, because I don't want to now. It is incoherent. Complete incoherence. I'm like 'What the hell is this?' I literally thought it was distorted from the phone. Ten seconds later, a picture comes through, and it is Jesse Luketa, our rookie outside linebacker, and he has cotton balls in his mouth.
"He just got his wisdom teeth out. He was high off his ass. He has no clue what he's doing. In the message it says, 'J.J., I just heard you're retiring, all I want is a jersey at the end of the season.'"
According to the text exchange posted by the Cardinals, Watt happily agreed to give Luketa a jersey.
Luketa himself confirmed Watt's story on Wednesday.
In case you're not familiar with Luketa, he is an outside linebacker the Cardinals drafted in the seventh round in 2022. In his final season at Penn State, Luketa posted 61 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and one interception in 12 games.
Luketa has played sparingly in his rookie season with the Cardinals, but he certainly found a way to make his mark in the silliest of ways.