JJ Watt opens up about ‘very emotional’ heart scare after procedure

JJ Watt opened up about his whirlwind week after playing in the Cardinals’ win over the Panthers on Sunday, just three days after he had his “heart shocked back into rhythm.”

Hours before Sunday’s game, Watt revealed on Twitter that he experienced atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat — on Wednesday, also mentioning he was told “somebody leaked personal information” about him. Moments after the Twitter reveal, Jay Glazer reported Watt’s treatment on “Fox NFL Sunday.”

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“Obviously, it’s been a very emotional week for my family, for my wife, for myself,” said Watt, who at one point held back tears while speaking to reporters. “So, I’m very happy to get a win today. Obviously, I’ve had a lot of emotions, but I’ve learned to appreciate the little things even more, and so it’s nice to have a win today.”

JJ Watt speaking to reporters after the Cardinals' win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt speaking to reporters after the Cardinals’ win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
YouTube/Arizona Cardinals

The 33-year-old said he was “upset” about the news leaking because “the only people that knew were people I should trust,” which included his family and some within the Cardinals organization.

Watt said he was “scared” to have to be put under anesthesia to have his heart shocked, and that his pregnant wife, Kealia Ohai, was by his side; their baby boy is due in “a few weeks.” He considered not playing Sunday but was told he could.

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“I talked to cardiologists and electrophysiologists from all over the country,” Watt said. “I was assured multiple times from multiple people that there was nothing else you could do. I could play like normal and something could happen the next day or never again in 20 years. So I was assured and I went back to practice on Friday and here we are.”

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JJ Watt (99) rushes during the Cardinals' win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt (99) rushes during the Cardinals’ win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt walks off the field after the first half of the Cardinals' win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt walks off the field after the first half of the Cardinals’ win over the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt warms up before the Cardinals' game against the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.
JJ Watt warms up before the Cardinals’ game against the Panthers on Oct. 2, 2022.

Watt, who signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Cardinals in 2021 after 10 years with the Texans, played 41 of 51 defensive snaps against the Panthers. He recorded three tackles in Arizona’s 26-10 victory.

“Shows you what type of person and competitor, human being he is,” Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s special and we were all obviously worried when he wasn’t around for a couple of days getting the tests run and handling that, but I think it was definitely inspiring for all of us and he played at a really high level and he just continues to amaze, the type of person and player he is.”

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