J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, played his final NFL game after 12 seasons worthy of the Hall of Fame. He was emotional when leaving the field at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco.
However, as HBO’s “Hard Knocks” had hinted before their final episode of the season with the Cardinals, Watt’s waterworks had been flowing all week.
Arizona’s coordinator for that side of the ball, Vance Joseph, tweeted a lovely video the squad made for Watt at a defense meeting.
And Watt started crying as his brother, a fellow defensive player of the year, T.J. Watt, appeared on the screen.
“Brother, J.J., I just want to say congratulations on retirement,” T.J. Watt said. “You and your resiliency throughout all the ups and downs. You end up in the NFL, being Defensive Player of the Year, and you have all your success, showed me that it’s possible.”
Following that, many athletes congratulated Watt on an outstanding season, including Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and two up-and-coming Hall of Famers, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
“Man, you were a pain in my a—for a long time. It was an honor to share the field with you,” Brady said.
The tension increased once more as Derek, Watt’s other brother, appeared on screen with his two nephews.
“J.J., congrats on your retirement and career in the Hall of Fame. Having a front-row seat to it all has been unique, and I couldn’t be prouder of you. Bro, I love you,” he said.
Finally, as if that weren’t enough for Watt, his wife and parents were the last to express their perspective on the voyage.
“J.J., before you were born, we had huge dreams for you and high hopes, but, boy, you kind of blew those out of the water on your own,” his mother, Connie, said. “We are so happy for you. It’s been a complete joy watching you all through the years.”
J.J. Watt’s father, John Watt, continued, “When I was your coach back then, we got to be a massive part of it for your first journey. Since then, it has been a pleasure to watch you. Although it’s sad to have this be your final game, you have so much to look forward to, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you, Kealia, and Koa.
While cuddling their newborn baby, Koa, Kealia Watt stated, “It has been such an honor to see you work your ass off these last years and do everything you needed to do to be the best.” “You’ve always remembered who you are while being so giving, loving, and kind to everyone in your vicinity.
A special surprise for @JJWatt before his final game. ❤️#HardKnocks @AZCardinals Wednesdays 10pm ET on @HBOMax pic.twitter.com/vckbVL2qVv
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2023
“I know Koa will be so proud to be your son.”