J.J. Watt's emotional farewell captured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks' and you'll want to get the tissues out

Bust out the Kleenex for the final moments of J.J. Watt's NFL career. The celebrated HBO docu-series "Hard Knocks" will air its final episode Wednesday night (9 p.m. CT), meaning a glimpse into the last Arizona Cardinals game of the season and, thus, the final game in the Wisconsin native's illustrious career.

The 49ers defeated the Cardinals on Jan. 8, 38-13; Hard Knocks is airing an in-season stretch of episodes following an NFL team for the second season.

The series released an emotional clip of the forthcoming episode, showing the special way Watt's family paid tribute to the future Hall of Famer, a maneuver apparently orchestrated by Cardinals defensive line coach Matt Burke.

Watt breaks down in tears at a team meeting watching the tribute video that featured clips of his wife, brothers and parents, as well as a series of elite NFL quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers.

His brother T.J., the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker who won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last year, was first in the video. J.J. has won three such awards, tied with Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald for most in league history.

"Just want to say congratulations on retirement," T.J. says. "You, and your resiliency throughout all the ups and downs, you ending up in the NFL and you being a defensive player of the year and having all the success you had, showed me that it's possible."

Middle brother Derek and his two sons also make an appearance, as do Watt's parents, John and Connie.

"Before you were born, we had really big dreams for you and high hopes, but boy, you kind of blew those out of the water on your own," Connie says. "We are so happy for you. It's been just a complete joy watching you all through the years."

Rodgers also makes a brief appearance, saying, "Congratulations buddy, see you in Canton," a reference to Watt's surefire Hall of Fame candidacy in five years. Other quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady also offer words of encouragement.

"Man you were a pain in my ass for a long time," Brady quips. "It was an honor to share the field with you."

Is there a chance Watt shares a stage with either Brady or Rodgers during the 2028 Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton?

J.J. Watt waves to the crowd during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Levi's Stadium during the final game of his NFL career.
J.J. Watt waves to the crowd during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Levi's Stadium during the final game of his NFL career.

The 2022 season marks the first time since 2015 that a team with a Watt won't be appearing in the NFL playoffs. T.J. and Derek's Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated in the final week of the season, and J.J.'s Arizona team struggled to 4-13 this year.

J.J. recorded two sacks in the loss to San Francisco and three tackles for loss, plus a pass defended. He played in 16 of 17 games this year for Arizona in a bounceback year from an injury that limited him to seven games last year, and he closes his career with 114 ½ sacks and 195 tackles for loss.

More:Pewaukee's JJ Watt says Man of Year Award is 'so much bigger than just one man'

More:On J.J. Watt's 10-year NFL draft anniversary, here are 10 top moments from his Hall of Fame career

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: J.J. Watt's final NFL game with Arizona Cardinals captured on HBO show