After 12 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons, Arizona Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt played his final NFL game, as he walked the field at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco to a rousing standing ovation.
But, as HBO’s “Hard Knocks” teased before his final episode of the season with the Cardinals, Watt’s waterworks had been running all week.
During a defense meeting, Arizona’s coordinator for that side of the ball, Vance Joseph, shared a very special video the team put together for Watt.
And when his brother, fellow Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt, appeared on the screen, Watt immediately began to cry.
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Caution: you might want to break out some tissues for this one.
“Brother, JJ, I just want to congratulate you on your retirement,” said TJ Watt. “You and your resilience through all the ups and downs. Finishing up in the NFL and being Defensive Player of the Year and having all the success you’ve had, it showed me that it’s possible.”
JJ WATT OF THE CARDENALS EMOTIONAL DURING STANDING OVATION AT FINAL MATCH
From there, a host of players, including Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and two future Hall of Famers Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, congratulated Watt on an incredible season.
“Man, you were a pain in my ass for a long time. It was an honor to share the field with you,” Brady said.
When Watt’s other brother, Derek, appeared on screen with his two nephews, emotions ran high once more.
“Congratulations on your retirement and Hall of Fame career, JJ. It’s been so special to have a front row seat to it all and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Love you bro,” he said.
Finally, if that wasn’t enough for Watt, his parents and wife were the last to share their share of the journey.
“JJ, before you were born, we had really big dreams for you and high hopes, but, man, you kind of pulled them out of the water on your own,” said her mother, Connie. “We’re so happy for you. It’s been a complete pleasure watching you over the years.”
JJ WATT’S BROTHERS CELEBRATE NFL STAR WHO RETIRES BEFORE FINAL GAME: ‘THIS MEANS THE WORLD TO ME’
John Watt, JJ’s father, added: “We got to be a big part of that on your first trip when I was your coach. And it’s been a joy to see you ever since. It’s kind of sad to see it coming.” to your last game, but you have so many great things ahead of you that I look forward to what the future holds for you, Kealia and Koa.”
“It’s been such an honor to watch you work these past few years and do everything you had to do to be the best,” Kealia Watt said as she held her newborn son, Koa. “You have been so generous and kind and loving to everyone around you, and you have never forgotten who you are.
“I know Koa will be very proud to be your son.”
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In 151 career regular season games, Watt finishes with 114.5 sacks, 586 combined tackles (195 for loss), 27 forced fumbles, and many more stats and accolades, including five All-Pro and five Pro Bowl selections.
Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and a 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.