Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt plays against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — J.J. Watt and his wife, Kealia, have spent the past few months looking at ultrasounds of their unborn son and wishing for the best.

They never thought they’d be looking at pictures of Watt’s own heart.

“It’s been a week. I’m happy to be here. Happy to…,” an emotional Watt said as his voice trailed off and he took a moment to gain control of his emotions.

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year helped the Cardinals beat the Carolina Panthers 26-16 on Sunday, just three days after having his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation.

“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.


“Obviously it’s been a very emotional week for me and my family – for my wife and for myself,” he added.

Watt found out Sunday that a media outlet planned to break the story about his medical condition, which upset him.

To get ahead of the news Watt tweeted just hours before kickoff that “I was just told somebody leaked some personal information about me and it’s going to be reported on today. I went into A-Fib on Wednesday, had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday and I’m playing today. That’s it.”

After the game Watt said he felt betrayed that someone shared his private medical information with the media.

“The only people that knew were my family and people in the building,” Watt said.

Watt added: “Injuries, I don’t care. You leak injuries. That’s football. But this one was very emotional for me, so it was upsetting.”


Watt had a key fourth quarter deflection of Baker Mayfield’s pass at the line of scrimmage that led to Dennis Gardeck’s interception and helped the Cardinals take a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter.

He finished with three tackles and two pass breakups.

“It shows you what kind of a person and competitor and human being he is. He’s special,” Cardinals Coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We’re all obviously worried when he wasn’t around for a couple of days handling that. I think it was definitely inspiring for all of us. He played at a really high level and continues to amaze that type of person and player that he is.”

Added Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray: “It was big time having him out there – and I’m glad he’s OK.”

Atrial fibrillation is defined as a “an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart,” according to the Mayo Clinic. That can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications if not properly addressed.

The 33-year-old Watt said his wife was by his side the entire time, even as he had to be under anesthesia to have the heart shocked.


He doesn’t know what caused the irregular heartbeat, but admitted the experience frightened him.

“I’ve had, obviously, surgeries before and injuries before,” Watt said. “And I’ve never been nervous for any of them. I’ve never been scared of anesthesia. I’ve never been scared of pain. But when they told me they were going to put me out and shock my heart, I was scared.”

Watt said he was thankful to be healthy enough to play.

And now he’s looking forward to seeing his son, who is due in two weeks.

“I’m glad it all worked out,” Watt said. “I’m glad I had good people taking care of me. And I’m glad I’m here today.”

TERRY BRADSHAW, a Hall of Fame quarterback, said he has been treated for two forms of cancer in the past year.


Bradshaw said on “Fox NFL Sunday” that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer late last year and was treated at Yale University Medical Center, including surgery.

“As of today, I am bladder cancer free,” Bradshaw said.

The 74-year-old then said he found a tumor in his neck earlier this year and it turned out to be a Merkel cell tumor, a rare form of malignant skin cancer. He was treated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“Folks, I may not look my old self, but I feel like my old self,” Bradshaw said. “I’m cancer free, I’m feeling great.”

Bradshaw played his entire career (1970-83) with the Pittsburgh Steelers and won four Super Bowls.

COLTS: Shaquille Leonard’s season debut ended quickly.


The three-time All-Pro linebacker made his first appearance since undergoing back surgery in June then left in the second quarter after colliding with one of his teammates on a Tennessee touchdown.

Leonard stayed on the ground for several minutes before trainers helped him walk from the field to the locker room where he was eventually diagnosed with a concussion. He finished the game with two tackles.

Leonard missed all of the Colts’ offseason activities with an ankle injury that bothered him since his rookie season. He had back surgery to alleviate the ankle pain.

The surgery forced Leonard to miss all of training camp, the entire preseason and Indy’s first three regular-season games even though he was a full participant at practice most of September.

JETS: Former longtime New York Jets offensive linemen Marvin Powell and Jim Sweeney died this week, the team announced.

Powell was a three-time All-Pro at right tackle and served as president of the NFL Players Association for two years during his 11-year NFL career, the first nine with the Jets. He died Friday, the Jets said. Powell was 67.


Sweeney was one of the Jets’ most durable players, starting 158 consecutive games during an 11-year stretch with the team, mostly at center. He died Saturday, the Jets said. Sweeney was 60.

The two were teammates with the Jets during the 1984 and ’85 seasons.

Powell, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was drafted by the Jets as the No. 4 overall pick in 1977 out of USC. He won a starting job as a rookie and became one of the franchise’s best and most-decorated players, selected to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons from 1979-83. Powell was an All-Pro in 1979, `81 and ’82.

Powell was also selected the Jets’ MVP by his teammates in 1979.

“Marvin was one of the best linemen I’ve ever seen,” former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker told the team’s website. “He was just a physical specimen. He was just good. I just loved him.”

Powell played his last two seasons with Tampa Bay, finishing with 130 starts in 133 games.


Powell was also one of the league’s most respected players while serving as a player union rep, then was elected as vice president of the NFLPA before serving as president two years. The Fort Bragg, North Carolina, native worked as an intern at the New York Stock Exchange and earned his law degree from New York Law School in 1987.

Powell’s son Marvin III played nine games as a fullback for New Orleans in 1999.

Sweeney was a second-round pick out of Pittsburgh – where he was Dan Marino’s center – in 1984 and started two games as a rookie. The Pittsburgh native started every game at left guard in his second season, then moved to left tackle for two seasons before becoming the Jets’ center in 1988 – a role he held for seven years.

His versatility and toughness made him one of the team’s most valuable players. It also earned him the respect of teammates and opponents.

“Jim was a typical Pittsburgh guy,” former teammate and current team radio analyst Marty Lyons told the team’s website. “He was tough – he was tough to practice against every day. You could count on him every single Sunday.

“He had a different personality as soon as he crossed over the lines, though. Hard-nosed, tough football player, a loving, caring friend off the field.”


Sweeney started every game for Seattle in 1995 and wrapped up his 16-year career by playing four seasons with his hometown Steelers. He played in 228 games, including 176 starts.

Sweeney got into coaching after his playing days, serving as an assistant at Duquesne and Albany. He also was an assistant at the high school level in the Pittsburgh suburbs for eight years.

Sweeney is survived by his wife Julie and their five children: Shannon, Liam, Aislinn, Kilian and Teagan.

STEELERS: A spectator at Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets died following a fall on an escalator at Acrisure Stadium.

The Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety said police and emergency service personnel were alerted after a male spectator fell around 4:45 p.m., shortly after the end of New York’s 24-20 victory over the Steelers.

Paramedics administered care on site before the victim was transported to the hospital in critical condition. He died shortly thereafter. The man’s identity has not been released.

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