J.J. Watt has embraced his first full offseason in Arizona. There have been trips documented on social media to London and Hawaii, but the veteran defensive end has already spent a ton of time in the state, traveling around to cities and hiking its terrain.
"I love being out here," Watt said. "To be able to be out here on natural grass, training in 75-degree weather all winter long is a very nice feature you have here."
Watt, who has been working out at the team facility essentially since the season ended, said he has been back to 100 percent health with his surgically-repaired shoulder for weeks now.
But the offseason has also been about interacting with fans. An organic trip to a local bar went down just so Watt could say hello (eschewing on-site media coverage in the process. And Watt left little question that he thinks that bigger connection with the fans is crucial not only for him but the entire team.
"The biggest thing I am looking forward to is building that relationship between the team and the fanbase," Watt said. "Since I got here in Covid times, it was a little more difficult to build that relationship. I want us all to feel like we are pulling in the same direction. On game day, I want that place to feel like it's one family all working toward that same goal of getting that win."
Watt certainly knows the disappointing 3-5 home record the Cardinals posted in 2021 -- not that the team's struggles was for lack of fan interest or support. In anything, it was that (and the Cardinals' slide at the end of the season) from which Watt wants to make sure the relationship stays strong.
"I really want our guys and our fans to all be on the same page," Watt added. "The best way to do that is to be out there, to be out there in the community, meeting the fans, to feel we are all connected. I know it is easier said than done, but that's what makes places special, and that's what makes seasons special."