HBO 'Hard Knocks': Best Cardinals Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Season Finale

Erin WalshJanuary 12, 2023

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 08: Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) gets applause from coaches and the bench after his final game play in the Week 18 game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 8, 2023 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals' season came to an end with a 38-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 8, and with that, HBO's Hard Knocks In Season series has also come to a close with Wednesday's season finale.

It opened up with former Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was fired earlier this week, answering questions about the team's performance in 2022 and his job status entering 2023.

The episode then pivoted to Arizona's players, coaches and staff taking the time to pray for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest in the first quarter of a Jan. 2 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. They all voiced their support for Hamlin, who is now back in Buffalo and out of the hospital recovering with his family.

✂️TheChampYTGamer✂️ ~Mako Hokage~ @TheChampYT2000

So, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> finally shows the huge amount of respect of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DamarHamlim?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DamarHamlim</a>

J.J. Watt and his wife, Kealia Ohai Watt, also made an appearance during the episode to discuss his retirement from the NFL and the birth of their first child, Koa James Watt.


The final moments of <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a>'s career. Captured by <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLFilms?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLFilms</a>.<br><br>Incredible. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/R4sdp9KVUq">pic.twitter.com/R4sdp9KVUq</a>

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Onto the next chapter 🍼<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a> <a href="https://t.co/lYhm8C6Tdz">pic.twitter.com/lYhm8C6Tdz</a>

Stop the hate. ❤️ one another. @bryroks73

Beautiful career JJ. Good luck in what's next.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Last reps ever 🥺️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a> <a href="https://t.co/DY3gOZiQSw">pic.twitter.com/DY3gOZiQSw</a>

Rachel H @Tulips_MD

Aah man Hard Knocks has me balling my eyes out 😭😭 <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a>

Chris Boden @BodenTweets

Damn, I'm getting as emotional as JJ during that farewell video on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/HBO?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HBO</a>

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Curtain call 🎬<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a> <a href="https://t.co/ofS3FL7aVQ">pic.twitter.com/ofS3FL7aVQ</a>

Ekdahl Press Office @EkdahlPress

JJ Watt on tonight's Hard Knocks about retirement: "I've had training camp every year of my life since 10 years old. I literally don't know what regular people do in August." <br>Just wild. Hope he enjoys it.

Watt will definitely be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame following a standout career with the Cardinals and Houston Texans that included three Defensive Player of the Year awards, five Pro Bowls, five All-Pros and 114.5 sacks.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who could be traded by the Cardinals this offseason, was also highlighted in the final episode. Hopkins discussed his hobby of making pottery and reflected on the 2022 campaign, admitting that it was a difficult season.

"I try to keep my head down and do my job, but this season has been f--ked up," Hopkins said.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Masterpiece in the making 🎨<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DeAndreHopkins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeAndreHopkins</a> <a href="https://t.co/x8Vyt2238v">pic.twitter.com/x8Vyt2238v</a>

If Hopkins is traded this offseason, it's unclear what Arizona's asking price will be.

It was a very difficult season for the Cardinals, and the team enters the offseason with numerous questions. One of them is how they'll replace Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim, who stepped down earlier this week to focus on his health.

Once that question is answered, the Cardinals can begin making other personnel moves and preparing for the 2023 draft in hopes of improving next season.