A.J. Hawk – gotta love how the Green Bay Packers linebacker thinks – and plays


A.J. Hawk is the unassuming, productive type of linebacker the Packers coaches like.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Wellllllll … we all know that Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to be making a billion dollars playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, but one of the franchise’s inside linebackers, A.J. Hawk, did make some good points in a recent interview about his role, Rodgers’ role and the state of the Green Bay Packers.

On the NFL Network’s program, NFL AM, Hawk was frank and himself … that’s why we like him. Aside from the fact that the unselfish player took a $7.5 million cut in his salary over the course of the next three years to stay a Packer, he’s an unassuming guy who works hard at what he does and doesn’t mince words when asked about what’s going on in his world.

Aaron Rodgers won’t make a billion dollars like A.J. Hawk says, but he’s a huge spoke in the Packers wheel.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

“Let’s be honest, all of us minions have nothing that we can offer Aaron that would even come close to anything that he would get,” Hawk said on the program this week.

“He deserves every dime he’s going to get; he’s going to get a billion dollars, probably, so I’m OK with anything they want to give him because he’s one of the best in the world and he deserves everything.”

But Hawk, who has endured benchings and criticisms, is still a Super Bowl champion and a player who just keeps rolling with the punches.

When he addressed the state of the Packers’ defense in light of their 45-31 tromping to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Division Playoffs last season, Hawk didn’t hide from the question:

"“It’s tough. A loss like that, especially when an offense kind of has their way with you, it’s tough to come back from. But we’ll be back, we’ll be ready. We’re starting here with our offseason stuff this coming week. Coach Dom Capers has a lot of good things in store for us and there’s nothing you can do but try to get up and start fighting. To lose and end your season like we did, you feel like you let everyone in Green Bay down; we let our offense down for sure with how we played as a defense. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”"

And he’s also a complete and true teammate. When his teammate Desmond Bishop went down to injury last season, Hawk was guaranteed significant playing time. But he knows he’s part of a team with no “I” when he comes out and says these kinds of things:

"Desmond Bishop. Raymond T. Rivard photograph“Desmond is such a good athlete and he’s so dynamic, it brings so many different things to the table. He’s not only an emotional leader on our team and a great player, but just having his presence out there will be great. He can do so many things well; he rushes the pass really well, he’s great in man coverage and he likes to be physical, which I have a lot of respect for that. We’re definitely looking forward to having him back on the field.”"

While Hawk is not the most dynamic player on the field of football, he’s one of those steady guys who helps a team to wins. He’s not splashy, loud-mouthed and conceited. He does what is necessary and does it well enough that he continuously catches the eyes of coaches. In fact, though nobody talked much about his on-field accomplishments, he went quietly about his way in racking up some of the best numbers of his career last year.

In 16 games, he had 81 tackles and 39 assists, while racking up three sacks, which is just off his career-high of 3.5 recorded his first season in 2006.

While there are those who think the first round draft pick has been an underperformer, during his career he has played in 110 games, starting 107 of them; he has 713 tackles (501 solo, 212 assists); he has 13.5 sacks; and eight interceptions. He’s also had three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

Again, not Hall of Fame numbers, but winning numbers nonetheless.

With his unselfish attitude and hustle effort, Hawk brings the intangibles to a locker room that makes it stronger. He’s the type of guy coaches love to have around.

There isn’t a harder worker than A.J. Hawk.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Is there any doubt as to why the Packers brought him back? Even though they asked him to take a paycut, they probably knew he was the type of guy who would do it without any hesitation.

Hawk isn’t a dummy. He knows what he has in Green Bay and Green Bay knows what they have in Hawk. It’s a relationship that should benefit the team for some time to come.