A.J. Hawk still has the rock-star hair, but his star has fallen since his glory days at Ohio State. It might be back on the rise if he can help the Packers win a Super Bowl.
A.J. Hawk still has the flowing rock-star hair.
In the ’80s he could have passed for a member of the band Kansas.
Compared to his glitzy run at Ohio State, though, his career has been a bit on the backstage side.
Maybe it’s time to strike up an old Kansas tune in honor of Hawk: “Carry On Wayward Son.”
At 27, the former Lombardi Award winner is playing for the Lombardi Trophy. He is a starting inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
Hawk, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2006 draft, hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl and at times has struggled to excel in his NFL coordinators’ schemes. He says he can live without big accolades.
“I’m having a great time,” the 27-year-old Kettering, Ohio native said. “This is the goal, obviously, to get here and win the Super Bowl.
“This is my fifth year. I wish we’d have gotten there a little sooner.”
Hawk had a career-low 87 tackles in 2009, after the Packers switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme under new coordinator Dom Capers. For the fourth straight year, he played every game, but for the first time, he didn’t start every one.
His numbers are back up this year, and he has been more of a playmaker. He finished the regular season with 14 1/2 “big plays,” eighth among NFL inside linebackers.
If the labor mess straightens out and games are played in 2011, his contract calls for him to make $10 million. The early guessing in Green Bay is that the team will try to keep him but will attempt to negotiate a pay cut.
General Manager Ted Thompson gave a cautious comment about Hawk to The Repository on Tuesday:
“A.J.’s a very solid guy, a very good player. We’re going to need all our guys this week.”
Hawk was The Guy on Ohio State’s defense in 2004 and ’05, when he made first-team All-America. He became an instant fan favorite as a freshman on the Buckeyes’ 2002 national championship team, playing extensively behind Cie Grant. In a game against Kent State, he intercepted a Joshua Cribbs pass and returned it for a touchdown. He had a big tackle for loss in the regular-season finale, a 14-9 win over Michigan.
The Buckeyes finished a 14-0 season by beating Miami (Fla.) in overtime.
“This is kind of like the national championship,” Hawk said, “but this is a little bigger deal. I’m really lucky to have gotten to play in that and this, too.”
Canton, Ohio, Repository