Cardinals' J.J. Watt to retire, legendary soccer player Pelé dies: top sports stories

From J.J. Watt announcing his retirement, to a soccer legend losing his battle with cancer, a lot happened in sports as we wrapped up 2022. Here's a look at the top stories in the world of sports from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

1. J.J. Watt to retire from NFL: 'My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude': J.J. Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year, said that the Cardinals' overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas Day would be his last NFL home game. "Koa’s first ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure," Watt tweeted.

2. Pelé, legendary Brazilian soccer star, dies at 82: Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, winner of record three World Cups and standard-bearer for "the beautiful game," died at 82. The soccer legend had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021.

3. BYU football offensive lineman Sione Veikoso killed in construction accident: BYU offensive lineman Sione Veikoso was killed in a construction accident in Kailua, Hawaii, the team announced. "Rest in Love Sione. God be with you till we meet again," the Cougars wrote on Twitter.

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 26: The BYU Cougars football team including Houston Heimuli #35, Sione Veikoso #72, Kingsley Suamataia #78, Alden Tofa #51, Joe Tukuafu #52, Lorenzo Fauatea #55, Peter Falaniko #68 and others pose for a group photo prior to a

4. Koo kicks short field goal, Falcons edge Cardinals 20-19: Rookie Desmond Ridder helped set up Younghoe Koo’s 21-yard field goal on the final play, lifting the Falcons over the Arizona Cardinals 20-19 to end a four-game skid. The Cardinals (4-12), playing with their fourth starting quarterback in four weeks, have lost six straight and eight of nine.


ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 01: J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals chases after Desmond Ridder #4 of the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

5. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy gets testy with reporter after bowl loss: 'Don't be an a--': Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy got testy with a reporter following a 24-17 loss to Wisconsin in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in downtown Phoenix after he was asked about potential coaching staff changes in the offseason.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 27: Head coach Mike Gundy of the Oklahoma State Cowboys looks on during the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers at Chase Field on December 27, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

Related stories


Sports in 2022: A look at this year's top stories

As we get ready to ring in 2023, we're taking a look back at the top stories in the world of sports from this year.


Billionaire agrees to buy Suns and Mercury, NFL legend Franco Harris dies: top sports stories

A billionaire who played college basketball for Michigan State has agreed to buy the Phoenix Suns and Mercury franchises, and the man responsible for the most iconic play in NFL history passed away – these are the top stories in the world of sports from Dec. 19-25.


Cardinals' Steve Keim takes leave of absence, Brittney Griner returning to WNBA: top sports stories

After she was freed from a Russian prison in a high-level prisoner exchange, WNBA star Brittney Griner announced she will return for the Phoenix Mercury's upcoming season, and the general manager of the Arizona Cardinals is taking an immediate leave of absence from the team – these are the top stories in the world of sports from Dec. 12-18.

top sports collage Jan 2

(Clockwise from top left: Photos by Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images; Clive Mason /Allsport; Chris Coduto/Getty Images; David Madison/Getty Images)