Let’s Gauge The Difference Of Opinion On A.J. Hawk

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A.J. Hawk

We talked about it on Tuesday morning, when it was announced that A.J. Hawk would officially retire as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Probably not a more divisive player in Packers’ history.

Some people love the guy and others hate him. And where do we go to gauge such feelings? Why, to an environment of total sensibility like Twitter.

Love A.J. Hawk

Hate A.J. Hawk

The Good

Regardless of whether you fall into the second category, you can’t deny there were some good things about A.J. Hawk.

“The first thing that needs to be said about A.J. Hawk is that he is a good man,” Packers GM Ted Thompson said. “He was a terrific teammate and a true professional during his career, and we were lucky to have him. A.J. will always be a Packer. We wish the best to him and the entire Hawk family, and thank them for all that they gave to the team and the city of Green Bay.”

That was the first thing Thompson rolled out in his statement about Hawk. Not, “great football player,” but “good man.”

And yes, we would agree. Really good guy.

Absolutely a professional.

Also, as we we discussed before, he was ALWAYS healthy. Hawk was unavailable for just two regular season games in his Packers’ career. Two!

He played in 142 of 144 regular season games.

As Mike McCarthy has said in the past, and I’m paraphrasing, the most important part of ability is availability.

We’ll throw in something else. The guy was humble.

Despite not ever really living up to the expectations of being a top-five pick, Hawk always took the high road. His ego was never on display and he always dealt with the media professionally, even when criticized.

Lastly, Hawk owns the franchise record for tackles, with 1,118. He broke John Anderson’s team record (1,020) and Anderson actually received votes for the 1980s All-Decade Team, which technically puts him on that second team.

So, to review:

  1. Great guy
  2. True professional
  3. Humble
  4. Made a lot of tackles

The Bad

Pretty simply, Hawk never really delivered on his lofty draft status.

Frankly, I’d say that’s not really Hawk’s fault. It’s Thompson’s fault for picking him so high. You’ve probably noticed, the Packers haven’t even thought about choosing an inside linebacker in the first few rounds since drafting Hawk at No. 5 overall in 2006.

We call that the A.J. Hawk effect.

Hawk was just not athletic. He didn’t make plays, which is the reason he was drafted.

Nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in his Packers’ tenure. That second number is the most damning.

Hawk was a liability in coverage, he was slow to react, he made impact plays too infrequently and, yes, he was a pile diver. Pile diving will certainly add to your tackle statistics.

Plus, in nine seasons, the guy just couldn’t get a helmet that would stay on his damn head. It was comical.

So, to review:

  1. Didn’t live up to draft status
  2. Not athletic
  3. REALLY not a playmaker
  4. Multiple weaknesses in his game, which sometimes made his availability a liability
  5. Pile diver
  6. Will be remembered more by some of us for his helmet flying off repeatedly than anything else

We get why some people love A.J. Hawk, especially people in the Midwest. He’s a a meat and potatoes, lunch-pail kinda guy. He did it the right way.

That’s swell.

The fact is, his numbers are inflated. Sure, making a tackle five yards down field counts as a tackle the same as making one behind the line of scrimmage.

Hawk made too few of the latter and too many of the former. I cannot recall a single time A.J. Hawk changed or greatly affected the outcome of a game.

That will be the legacy I remember. Well, that and being a great guy…

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

8 Comments on "Let’s Gauge The Difference Of Opinion On A.J. Hawk"

  1. PF4L

    Funny…..Look up Hawks numbers in his prime, and compare it to the rest of the pretenders that have or are playing linebacker for the Packers sans Mathews.

    Grab a box of tissues….He didn’t play like #5 pick..waaaaa, waaaa.
    How many 1st round draft picks don’t even see a second contract in this league? Howard had it right, being picked #5 wasn’t his choice. There are a lot of former #1-5 draft picks, that would have loved to have the career that Hawk has had. Get a life.

    Hawk is, what he was…A great warrior and Packer who wore the green and gold proudly.

    AJ HAWK can come to TitleTown anytime and hold his head up high. Fans will show him love and respect ….because he’s earned it.

  2. Good to see you commenting PF4L.

    It may not look like a big difference if an ILB is making a tackle 2,3,4, or 5 yards down the field. I would suggest that even if your ILB is making tackles 5 yards down the field it is a lot better than your safeties making tackles 6,7,8,9, or 10 yards down the field.

    It is not always true but if you look at the top defenses in the NFL the majority (but not all) have ILBers being their top 1 and/or 2 tackle leaders with the safeties being in the top 3 to 5 tackle leaders on the team.

    Until the Packers find At least one if not two ILBs that can be the top tackle leader(s) on the team rather than the safeties the Packers will remain in the bottom half (or lower) of the league in total defense.

  3. FLETCH60

    I don’t understand the AJ Hawk hatred by some. Was he the dominant player that a #5 overall is “supposed” to be? No. But whose fault is that? Not his. There’s no reason to think that he didn’t play to the best of his ability. He had a career to be proud of, and he served the Packers well.

  4. Gort

    I think that the Hawk haters just saw how quickly he went from pretty good to mediocre to a liability. It seemed to happen almost overnight.

  5. icebowl

    Credit him for not going out w hamstring injuries every season…
    Key screwup in Meltdown in Seattle game…

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