Few players in the NFL are respected like J.J. Watt, so when the Arizona Cardinals star announced that he planned to retire after this season, you knew he was going to get his due.
With Watt's final game approaching Sunday, completing a career of 12 seasons, 151 games and 114.5 sacks, the Cardinals arranged a surprise for him during a team meeting Saturday, which was captured by "Hard Knocks In Season."
Cardinals interim head coach Vance Joseph singled Watt out, then played a video featuring Watt's brothers, T.J. and Derek, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, parents John and Connie, wife Kealia and son Koa.
Watt was near tears by the time the first speaker, T.J., finished his first sentence and was outright sobbing by the video's halfway point:
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 10, 2023
Messages were mixed but overall reverential, including "See you in Canton" from Rodgers and "You were a pain in my ass for a long time" from Brady. It ended with a message from an emotional Kealia:
"It has been such an honor to watch you work your ass off these past years and do whatever you needed to do to be the best. You've always been so generous and kind and loving to everybody around you, and you never forgot who you are. I know Koa will be so proud to be your son."
As you can imagine, Watt more than appreciated the messages.
Was not ready for that whatsoever.
Truly one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
Will cherish it forever. https://t.co/XvRr7PqeRV
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 11, 2023
Watt's career wrapped up Sunday with a two-sack performance against the San Francisco 49ers, whose fans gave him a standing ovation as he exited the field. He was again visibly emotional, as was Kealia.
There is little doubt that Watt is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a career that included three NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards, five first-team All-Pro nods and the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his work raising money in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Even though injuries limited his playing time in the second half of his career, his peers know that Watt is an all-timer.