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The last time the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl was on Feb. 6, 2011. They went 10-6 during the regular season before taking down the Philadelphia Eagles (21-16), Atlanta Falcons (48-21), Chicago Bears (21-14), and Pittsburgh Steelers (31-25) with Aaron Rodgers at the helm of the NFL‘s 10th-ranked scoring offense. But defense was the squad’s calling card, and linebacker A.J. Hawk led the unit in tackles with 111.

Hawk spent each of his first nine seasons with the Packers, and he was one of the top collegiate players before he entered the league.

But even though he won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, Hawk never developed into the game-breaking star he was supposed to be at the sport’s highest level.

A.J. Hawk had an impressive college career at Ohio State

Hawk is a native of Centerville, Ohio, and attended Centerville High School, where he stood out on the football field. During his career there, he was a two-time All-State player. After high school, he committed to Ohio State and played under Jim Tressel from 2002- 05. During his freshman year, Ohio State won the 2002 BCS National Championship. 

After his freshman campaign, he became the starting linebacker for the next three seasons. During that time, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl MVP.

But Hawk’s true breakout came during his senior year. He won the Lombardi Award as the best college football linebacker and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American. He was also named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. 

Over his four years with the Buckeyes, Hawk recorded 394 tackles (196 solo), 41 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and 13 fumbles recovered. In doing so, he set himself up to become a top pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Hawk was the No. 5 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft

The Packers selected A.J. Hawk with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was the first linebacker to come off the board and was followed by Ernie Sims (No. 9 to the Detroit Lions), Chad Greenway (No. 17 to the Minnesota Vikings), and Bobby Carpenter (No. 18 to the Dallas Cowboys). Green Bay signed him to a six-year, $37.5 million contract that included $14.76 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.91 million.

As a rookie, Hawk became the starting weakside linebacker. He finished his first year with 119 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.

Though he finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting and consistently turned in high tackle totals, Hawk never became a true star in Green Bay. He played a key role on the defensive side but wrapped up his career with zero Pro Bowl selections.

That said, he did achieve quite a career highlight by winning the Super Bowl.

A.J. Hawk had one regret during his NFL career

A.J. Hawk of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Dec. 14, 2014 | Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

From 2006-14, A.J. Hawk made Green Bay his second home.

He finished his Packers career with 922 tackles, 19 sacks, and nine interceptions. The team released him in 2015, ending a stint that had seen him lead the squad in tackles five times. He signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, but only spent one year there, recording 24 tackles and a single sack.

In 2016, Hawk signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, who released him in the middle of the season. He then announced his retirement in January 2017, wrapping up his NFL career with 947 tackles, 20 sacks, nine interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and three forced fumbles.

After he retired from football, he got into the broadcasting side of the game. But while Hawk has enjoyed retirement, he does have one regret about his career:

For me, my only regret is that we didn’t win multiple Super Bowls during my time in Green Bay.

Think about it: When you have Aaron Rodgers, who is the greatest quarterback of all time, you always have a shot at winning it all. And we had a great group of guys around him, too. I played with Brett Favre for two years and Aaron Rodgers for seven, and we only won one ring. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always cherish the Super Bowl ring that I do have. But looking back, I believe we should have won more.

A.J. Hawk on the Players’ Tribune

The Packers did indeed have a talented squad for much of the time Hawk spent on the roster, and they very well could have won multiple titles. During his nine seasons, they made the playoffs seven times, won a single title, and fell shy in the penultimate round twice.

That was enough for Hawk to feel some regret, but at least that one dalliance with the Lombardi Trophy is a nice consolation prize.

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