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Wisconsin linebacker JJ Watt chases down an Iowa running back in a football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin in 2009.

This week Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle JJ Watt (#99) announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL). He went to school at the University of Wisconsin and played football for the Wisconsin Badgers. I remembered photographing a game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin more than 13 years ago, so I went back into my hard drive and dug deep to see if I ever photographed him. Lo and behold, I did photograph him in that gave vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes back in 2009.

The photos aren’t very remarkable. I am not an experienced football photographer, and no one knew he would have an illustrious career in the NFL and likely become a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. But I did manage to capture him in a few shots. I wish I had isolated him in a few shots, though.

JJ Watt’s accomplishments in the NFL are far too lengthy to list here, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment was when he helped raise more than over $37 million ($100,000 of which he personally donated) to help Houston recover from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, surpassing his initial goal of raising $200,000. He has a big heart, a wonderful sense of humor, and seemingly a good man. I am glad I can say I can say I had a fleeting opportunity to photograph #99.

The Image of American Cowgirls

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