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One on One with A.J. Hawk

Posted Oct 3, 2013

A.J. Hawk sat down with packers.com Editor Vic Ketchman to provide fans with this look at the Packers' star linebacker

Q. You’re in your eighth season in the NFL. How would you describe your career?
A. Wow, that’s a great question. It’s tough to put it all into words. I would say it’s very lucky, first of all, to still be here; it’s hard to stay with one team for eight years, especially a team as great as the Packers organization. Just like anybody else in the league, there are always ups and downs. I definitely think there have been more ups than downs. I’ve loved it, had a great time. I think in year eight I feel as good as I’ve ever felt, mentally and physically.

Hawk was a two-time All American at Ohio State and won the Lombardi Award in 2005

Q. What were your expectations coming out of Ohio State?
A. I’ve been asked that before. I think I was so young and naive coming out of Ohio State. Obviously, it’s a big program and we played in a ton of big games. I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea. I just wanted to come in and keep my head down and work hard, not say anything. I probably didn’t speak for the first two years I was here. A lot of people talk about stay in your lane; you know, just do your job and don’t say a word. Listen to the vets and do everything that you’re supposed to. So I think I was so singly focused on that I don’t know what my expectations were. We went to the NFC championship game my second year here.  First year we were 8-8, second year NFC championship game and almost got to the Super Bowl. So it was an eventful first couple of years for sure.

Q. Playing in Green Bay?
A. I had never been here but I knew all about it, the history of the Packers. You hear a lot of guys that talk about their draft story and they say, “I didn’t even know where Green Bay is; I didn’t know it was in Wisconsin.” I knew everything about that, I would follow the Packers a decent amount. Brett had been here for so long and he was kind of the face of the Packers forever. I would say it’s unique compared to every other NFL city. My buddies that play on other teams always talk about “I’m riding the bus to the game, just riding through a neighborhood and bam, there’s Lambeau right there,” as most stadiums are downtown in the city. All your neighbors are so nice and everything. One of my dogs has run away like 10 times over the last three or four years, and his tag keeps falling off and my neighbors know who he is. He’ll be five miles away and I’ll have someone bring them back to my house. I can’t see that happening anywhere else. The last two times he ran away, someone stopped their car. They opened their door and he just jumped in, they took him home and he stayed a night at their house, they fed him and everything. I just can’t imagine anywhere else where you open your car door to a big German shepherd and he sleeps on your living room floor. Just the people are amazing; you can’t even describe it.

Hawk with wife, Laura, and daughter, Lennon, moments after winning Super Bowl XLV

Q. What’s left for you to accomplish?
A. A lot, I hope. I was lucky enough to get one Super Bowl, but I want a bunch. I think the thing people have asked me is you’ve had one, so are you not as motivated anymore? But no, it’s 100 percent the other way. I’ve seen how awesome the experience was for not just me and our whole team but our whole family and extended family, it was such a special year. I want to go back every year, so every year that doesn’t happen it’s a disappointment.

Q. What will you do when you’re done playing?
A. I’ve been planning for that since I’ve gotten to the league. I think I want to have some kind of media job. I went to broadcast boot camp this past summer that the NFL put on. My ultimate goal is to do color commentary for college games, I think. I wouldn’t rule anything out but that’s kind of like from everything I’ve done, from doing analysis sitting at the desk, I enjoy doing color for the games and being at the game. I think that’s something that’s very hard, but something I think I have a passion to work at.

Q. Do you think you’ll stay in Green Bay?
A. I don’t know if we’ll stay here, but we’ll definitely be back here a lot. We’ve met so many great friends, but we’re either here or Ohio, that’s our plan for sure.

Q. At what age did you fall in love with football?
A. I would say six years old. When they finally let me play, it was flag football at the time, and I was always getting in trouble for hitting people. I had two older brothers that were playing, too, so I was just itching to get out there. So I grew up just idolizing all those guys.

Q. Did you always know this would be your destiny?
A. I dreamed of it, and I always hoped it would happen, but I could never envision this. It was always a dream but I don’t think it was something I ever thought was going to happen. When I was young, high school football was so big where I’m from. The high school varsity guys, all those guys were movie stars to me. Just seeing that and thinking in high school, man, I would sure love to get a scholarship, but doubt that it would actually happen. So every kind of step has been something I’ve kind of hoped and worked for but never really thought it was achievable.

Hawk bikes to a 2008 training camp practice

Q. Will you want your son to play football?
A. I think so. People always ask me that. Honestly, I won’t care or push him towards it. I definitely don’t think I’ll be one of those dads, because my dad didn’t push us. He was always available if we wanted, whether it was to shoot free throws at one a.m., my dad would get out of bed for me and rebound for me and stuff like that. I want to be that kind of dad, but I definitely don’t think I would push them. I don’t know if I would even coach them. I’m more of a guy to just lay back and watch. I would encourage him. I wouldn’t be worried about him getting hurt or anything though.

Q. What do you envision for the Packers this season?
A.
Obviously we haven’t started out the way we want. Coach McCarthy always says everything is in front of us. What we want, we just need to go and take this. Starts this week, division game, you have to take care of our own division, and then you put yourself in a good position.  We’d like to get out to a fast start. I think the good thing about here is that no one ever panics. We’ve been in this situation before, we know how good we can be, and it’s just up to us to kind of put it together.

Q. Do you feel a sense of urgency on the team for Sunday’s game?
A. I think so; there are a lot of factors. Coming off the bye, we lost going into the bye, that’s something we didn’t want to happen. So I think we’ve had a lot of energy this week already. And Detroit is playing so well too, that they’ll be excited. I know our fans are itching to get back out there, too, and for us to get back on track. I definitely think it’ll be a big game, anytime you play a division game in Lambeau, the atmosphere is going to be electric.

 
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