Originally signed by the Packers last September as a mid-season free agent acquisition, Michael Hawthorne became the top backup in the Green Bay secondary for much of the 2003 season, seeing action in the final 14 regular-season games and starting the last two.
Capable of playing both cornerback and safety, he was an integral part of the team's nickel and dime packages and was on the field for better than 23 snaps per contest (23.2).
A 6-foot-3, 200-pound player out of Purdue, Hawthorne made 23 tackles, 10 special-teams stops, and posted his first NFL sack and single-season career highs in both interceptions (two) and passes defensed (six). Both interceptions came against the Raiders on ABC's Monday Night Football, Dec. 22, when he started for an injured Mike McKenzie (turf toe).
Having already proven capable of playing under one of football's brightest spotlights, Packers.com caught up with Hawthorne, who recently re-signed with the Packers, to see how he could handle a few Random Questions.
Packers.com: Besides your own, what's the toughest position on the field to play?
Michael Hawthorne: "I guess it would be quarterback. You never know what's going to happen, who's coming from where, what defense is what, or how many seconds you may have to throw the ball before you get decapitated."
Are you involved in any business ventures?
"I've been getting into real estate. I also want to start a little freelance design company. I can sit in my room and come up with futuristic designs of just about anything. It doesn't matter. It varies from automotives to sporting goods to household products.
"I've been blessed to have a creative and inventive mind, as one of my professors said. I majored in engineering graphic design and management.
"I love to draw and design. I love to open up things that weren't working and to see if I can tinker with them. I just love to tinker, sort of like a mechanic, but more specifically an engineer."
Is that an area you'd like to explore after your football career?
"Yes. Actually, I want to get into it while I'm still in the NFL because an NFL name can take you farther than just an average name. It's just one of the perks. You might as well use it while you have it. The name will stay there, but it's just better while you're in it and you're around other guys that may decide to do similar things."
What is your best memory from last season?
"Monday night. My performance along with Brett's. The Raiders game. It was nice. It was my first two-interception game. It was my first start ever on a Monday night. And the thing that Brett did, what more can you ask for? And I was a part of that game. It may be one of the best Monday night games in history, except for the 'Monday Night Miracle' (when Antonio Freeman caught a deflected pass on his back for a game-winning touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, Nov. 6, 2000). That Monday night was one of the high points of the organization and hopefully this one (against Oakland) can go down the same way, being that Brett faced adversity and looked better than ever."
Have you followed the NCAA basketball tournament?
"I jumped in during the Sweet 16. I didn't fill out a bracket, but I've been watching both the men's and women's tournaments. The games have been awesome."
Who's your favorite to win?
"Well, I don't think Duke is unbeatable like they have been in the past. Xavier had them on the ropes, they just gave it right back. Right now I'd have to say Oklahoma State. I think they have a pretty good chance.
"On the women's side, LSU has looked really good. I was going to ride the Boilermakers train, but Georgia put them out. If they would have made it to the Final Four, I would have been on the first flight. UConn looks pretty good too. I just like to see great games and great teams."
What kind of music do you listen to before games?
"It varies, anywhere from an intense rap to hip-hop to R&B. I listen to DMX or Jay-Z or I can just take it down and mellow myself out with Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys or Beyonce Knowles.
"That doesn't get me hyped. When I walk onto the field, that gets me hyped. Music just relaxes me in a certain way. I can't say that I can put on music and go run through a wall because I'd be in the training room getting my neck tended to or my head stitched up. So it varies. Different days have different feelings. But once you put on the pads, that's what hypes me up."
What is your favorite sports movie?
"I like Waterboy because of the intense hitting. But I would have to take it back to The Program."
What's the best thing about being a Packer?
"The cold weather. The lovely cold weather.
"And, it's the organization. Just being in an organization with such a rich tradition and history and being a part of something like that, you can't ask for anything else. The history and tradition of the Packers molds a great team."
What is your favorite book?
"I'm into poetry a lot. It varies from different authors. I can't really name a favorite book. I would have to think all the way back when I read one of my first big books that wasn't required in school. It was about Bo Jackson."
What was your favorite toy as a child?
"I didn't really have a favorite toy. I loved to play with bugs. I used to come home with a bug in one of those little water fountain cups so that I could play with it later.
"I also had a He-Man collection. I used to always have little water battles in the tub. He-Man would be fighting Skeletor and they would all be swimming in the water. He-Man won most of the battles, but Skeletor would win one or two."
In a movie about your life, who would play you?
"Besides myself? That's a tough one. I guess I would say Denzel Washington. But my leading lady would definitely be Sanaa Lathan or Beyonce Knowles."