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
Welcome back to the #Packers, AJ Hawk!
To all the naysayers: pic.twitter.com/EPzCaiYAKH
— The Packer Ranter (@PackerRanter) April 18, 2017
How will you remember AJ HAWK. @packers FANS, I say just a great leader on and off the field,future packer HOF,retiring a packer is awesome
— leroy butler (@leap36) April 18, 2017
— Bobby Carpenter (@Bcarp3) April 18, 2017
— Gilbert Brown (@GilbertBrown) April 18, 2017
AJ Hawk officially retires as a Green Bay Packer. You were definitely a favorite here in Green Bay. 💪💪 pic.twitter.com/bhlKLNwQgY
— #GetUsADefense (@FixThePack) April 18, 2017
— Clayton Hamilton (@Clayton_JoeFan) April 18, 2017
— Sean Raddatz (@SeanRaddatz) April 18, 2017
Hate A.J. Hawk
— SITH LORD (@SithLordAR) April 18, 2017
A.J. Hawk is a good man, but the stat that best exemplifies his career as a linebacker in the NFL is 3 forced fumbles in 159 games.
— Michael Rodney (@PackersNotes) April 18, 2017
A.J. Hawk has retired as a Packer. His helmet came loose and fell off while doing so.
— Packers Stuff (@Packers_Stuff) April 18, 2017
— Pat Heffling (@wurstbrewerfan) April 18, 2017
A.J. Hawk is retiring as a Packer. His present should be stationary.
— Mike Hart (@HartAttakSports) April 18, 2017
— josh schram (@jpaul_schram) April 18, 2017
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:
- Great guy
- True professional
- Made a lot of tackles
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:
- Didn’t live up to draft status
- Not athletic
- REALLY not a playmaker
- Multiple weaknesses in his game, which sometimes made his availability a liability
- Pile diver
- 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.
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…