NFL

Former Green Bay Packers Linebacker A.J. Hawk Never Became the Star He Was Sought Out to Be

The last time the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl was in 2011. Green Bay had a talented team that year. One former player who was a member of that Super Bowl-winning team was A.J. Hawk. Hawk spent his first nine seasons with the Packers, and before he entered the league, he was one of the top players in college.

Though he won a Super Bowl with the Packers, Hawk never developed into a star in the league.

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

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Hawk is a native of Centerville, Ohio, and attended Centerville High School, where he was a standout player 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 to 2005. During his freshman year, Ohio State won the 2002 BCS National Championship. 

After his freshman year, he became the starting linebacker for the next three years. During that time, he earned First Team All-Big Ten honors and was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl’s MVP. Hawk had a breakout season in his senior year. He won the Lombardi Award as the best college football linebacker and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American. Hawk also was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. 

During his career at Ohio State, Hawk had 394 tackles with 196 of them solo, 41 of them for losses, 15 and a half sacks, seven interceptions, and 13 fumbles recovered. Hawk set himself up to become a top pick in the upcoming draft after his career at Ohio State. 

Hawk was a top pick in the 2006 NFL draft

The Packers selected Hawk with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He was the first linebacker selected in the 2006 draft. The Packers signed him to a six-year, $37.50 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.

During his time in Green Bay, he never became a star, but he played a key role on the defensive side. Hawk’s highlight in Green Bay was winning the Super Bowl. He didn’t receive any other awards, but winning a Super Bowl is a significant accomplishment. 

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

From 2006 to 2014, Hawk made Green Bay his second home. Hawk finished his career in Green Bay with 922 combined tackles, 19 sacks, and nine interceptions. The Packers released Hawk in 2015, and he led the team in tackles five of the nine years he played there. After the Packers released him, he signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. He spent one season with the Bengals and finished with 24 combined tackles and one sack.

In 2016, he signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons released Hawk in the middle of the 2016 season. Hawk announced his retirement in January of 2017 on a podcast. He finished his NFL career with 947 total 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. While Hawk has enjoyed retirement, he did have one regret during his career in Green Bay. According to an article from 247Sports.com, Hawk had a conversation with the Players’ Tribune and talked about that one regret he had. “For me, my only regret is that we didn’t win multiple Super Bowls during my time in Green Bay,” he said. 

“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.” The Packers did have a talented group of players for multiple years while Hawk was there, and they were a team many thought could win multiple titles.