Green Bay Packers fans have love/hate affair with A.J. Hawk

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This past week, I posted a story about A.J. Hawk and his role and future with the Green Bay Packers.

Packers fans either really love the guy or they think his time has come – it’s time to decrease his playing time and to move on.

The response to the post was tremendous … and made one thing very clear to me: Packers fans either really love the guy or they think his time has come – it’s time to decrease his playing time and to move on.

Here is what I wrote to open the story:

"A.J. Hawk, the Green Bay Packers inside linebacker, the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, has given the team nine years of service, has given his blood, sweat and tears to his brethren and fans and will be remembered as a Super Bowl champion. But A.J. Hawk isn’t the same A.J. Hawk of nine years ago when the Packers drafted him fifth overall in the NFL Draft. He’s not the same player who stepped up to help lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. He’s not the same player who in the past has taken on blockers in the hole, shed them and made the tackle."

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is sacked by Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry (53) with help from linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) and defensive end Datone Jones (95). Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Judging from the comments left on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, there are many fans who agree, but just as many who disagree – and both sides are passionate about they guy – they either love him or really dislike him … for various reasons.

Let me get one thing straight here – I love A.J. Hawk. What he has brought to the team is an old-school attitude and durability that we haven’t seen from a player in a long time. Sure, his physical abilities – or lack thereof – get him in trouble on the field – but this wily veteran has been solid for a long time with this team. He hasn’t been All-Pro material, but he’s been steady and always ready to play.

So, it rather pained me to have had to write what I did.

But when one sits down and looks at the big picture and sees things from his head and not the heart, it’s pretty clear that the Packers will be forced to move on from A.J. Hawk sooner rather than later.

That’s what we’re seeing now with the movement of players on the inside of the Packers defense and the use of linebacker Sam Barrington more and more.

The time is coming soon for A.J. Hawk.

One day we will celebrate his overall accomplishments and his contribution to the team, but for now it’s time we win games.

And that’s what the NFL is all about … the bottom line. Sam Barrington, with a sprinkling of A.J. Hawk, is what’s going to give the Packers their best chances at winning games the rest of this season.

Whether Barrington is the long-term solution remains to be seen. Clearly, the Packers have to address the position in the NFL Draft (something they should have done last year).

But in the meantime, here are what Facebook friends have been saying … turn the page …