The NFL world was caught off guard two weeks ago when Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt announced he would retire at the end of the 2022 season.
In the ninth and final episode of Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph addressed his players and Watt the day before the Cardinals' regular-season finale versus the 49ers. Defensive line coach Matt Burke had an idea of compiling messages from Watt's family to NFL players he played against to send the future Hall of Famer off into the sunset.
The farewell video ranged from his brothers, T.J. Watt and Derek Watt, to opponents like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Dak Prescott. His parents, Connie and John Watt, shared a heartfelt message, along with his wife Kealia, who carried their daughter in the video.
"Brother, I just want to say congratulations on retirement," T.J. Watt said in J.J. Watt's farewell video. "You and your resiliency throughout all the ups and downs. You ending up in the NFL and being a Defensive Player of the Year and you having all the success that you had, showed me that it's possible."
An emotional J.J. Watt can be seen in the clip -- moved by all the messages.
"Man you were a pain in my ass for a long time," Brady said in the video. "It was an honor to share the field with you."
Watt was selected No. 11 overall by the Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft. During his first 10 seasons in Houston, Watt was a dominant force disrupting quarterbacks and opposing game plans. He earned three Defensive Player of the Year awards, five Pro Bowl appearances, five All-Pro honors and was named the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Watt joined the Cardinals in 2021 and played the first seven games that season until he underwent a season-ending shoulder procedure. In 16 games this season, the 33-year-old defensive tackle recorded 12.5 sacks and 25 QB hits. He finished his NFL career with 114.5 sacks, 586 tackles, 195 tackles for loss and 317 QB hits.
"Congratulations, buddy. See you in Canton." Rodgers said.
There is no doubt that Watt will be a Hall of Famer and will be taking the stage in Canton. He will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028.