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Let’s Reflect on A.J. Hawk’s Packers Career

A.J. Hawk

Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk was released by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday following the worst season in his nine-year NFL career.

The move was expected and, in our minds, long, long overdue.

Hawk was a Packer for a long time. He wasn’t a great Packer and you’d have a hard time convincing anyone around here he was even a good Packer, but he was a Packer nonetheless.

For almost a decade…

Think about that for a minute.

Guys who last a decade in the NFL are rare. Ones that last a decade with one team are even rarer.

Those guys are usually either, A. quarterbacks or, B. guys with piles of accolades and honors.

Hawk is neither of those.

As far as accolades, Hawk was never an All Pro. He was never a Pro Bowler, unless you count 2010, when he was named an alternate. He would have played in that game because several other guys at his position dropped out, except the Packers were playing in the Super Bowl.

That’s a very underachieving career for a guy chosen fifth overall in the 2006 draft.

I noticed someone say it wasn’t Hawk’s fault that he was the fifth pick in the draft, yesterday. That suggests we shouldn’t blame Hawk for not being a big-time playmaker.

However, it’s only true in that we should really blame general manager Ted Thompson for making such an underwhelming draft pick. Guys like Vernon Davis, Donte Whitner and Haloti Ngata went in the next 10 picks.

Hawk was overvalued in terms of potential impact, but that was obviously done for a reason. And whether Hawk was ever even capable of reaching that potential will be irrelevant when they tell the story of A.J. Hawk.

He was expected to and he didn’t.

Had he not been the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft and had he not been drafted by Thompson, we suspect Hawk would have had a much shorter stay in Green Bay than nine years.

The gift and the curse of A.J. Hawk was that he gave you things that a lot of guys didn’t — he always played hard, he played through pain and was extremely durable, and he was always a team-first guy. Those things are admirable and those are the things that kept him around this long.

In fact, those are the things that made the Packers overlook the fact that Hawk was never a playmaker (or that he was substandard in coverage or got swallowed up by blockers).

Had Hawk been selfish, given half-assed effort or even if he would have been injured for an extended period of time, the Packers could easily have replaced him with someone else.

Hawk played in an amazing 142 games in his nine-year Packers career. That means he missed only two games because of injury during that span. He started 136 of those games.

Hawk is also the Packers career leader in tackles, with 1,118. Mind you, tackles have only been tracked since 1975, but Hawk’s total is 98 better than John Anderson’s 1,020.

While that’s somewhat impressive, anyone who watched John Anderson play would tell you he was a far superior player when compared to Hawk. But that’s the thing about stats like this. No one with any football knowledge would tell you Donald Driver was a better receiver than Don Hutson, James Lofton or Sterling Sharpe, yet he’s the Packers all-time receiving leader.

Such totals are achieved as much through longevity, luck and circumstance as they are through talent.

Mostly, Hawk’s career will be remembered as one that lacked impact plays.

Over his nine-year career, Hawk totaled 19 sacks, nine interceptions, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. If you do the math there, that’s an average of about four impact plays per season.

That’s pretty sad, especially when you consider Hawk almost literally played in every game during his nine-year run.

He did give us this, though.

A.J. Hawk and a puppy

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Monty McMahon

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

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21 Comments

  1. billybong February 26, 2015

    O.K., one of the fav whipping boy’s is gone, actually two of them, Hawk and Jones….sometimes in a small market town like GB some things are worth more to the fans like being hard working, nice lunchpail loyal guy…he sure wasn’t an all pro, he must of did enough for the management to keep him around this long…one thing for sure…he’s generally well liked…that won’t help win a Super Bowl but it will help with a general feeling and attitude on a team…want Dez Bryant stalking the sidelines screaming shit? not me…and as far as his draft status, this is a good read about that…some of the guys drafted before and right after him were or are, big duds
    http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/162532/dont-judge-a-j-hawk-on-his-draft-position

  2. billy bob February 26, 2015

    The man played nine years for the Pack couldn’t ya have beaten him with the 2×4 without the nails?

  3. Please February 26, 2015

    There is no way for anyone to adequately explain how Hawk was able to stay in the NFL for nine seasons. There are a lot of “nice” and “hard working” guys. Lot’s of “durable” players that “showed up” to play each week. That normally doesn’t equate into a nine year career. No one can comment about any aspect of Hawk’s game that they’ll miss…(hard hitter? ah, no…great blitzer? um, no…super instincts? nada…good cover guy? not really… played in the backfield? funny….showed up big in big games? don’t think so). No one will remember him for that big game or that clutch play. In fact, all we remember is that he showed up. Like I said, I’ll never understand how he stayed in the league for nine years.

  4. TyKo Steamboat February 26, 2015

    Hawk took less $ to remain a Packer & a winner.

    1. John Smith February 26, 2015

      Pay cut or Get Cut = YOU SUCK

  5. Howard February 26, 2015

    It was past time for Hawk to go. I will not bash Hawk. No one should feel like Hawk is a hero because he took less money. Hawk would have been cut earlier if he did not agree to the pay cut. Hawk took home over 34 Million dollars from the Packers in 9 years. Hawk was well compensated by the Packers and he has a Super Bowl ring to boot.

  6. Garfield February 26, 2015

    http://sgtest.totalpackers.com/2011/01/31/where-would-the-packers-be-without-a-j-hawk/

    “I, for one, am damn glad the Green Bay Packers have A.J. Hawk right now, though.”

    – Monty McMahon

    The Packers are not SB XLV champs without A.J. Hawk.

  7. pf4l February 26, 2015

    JHC ….After reading this article, containing the never ending hatred of A J Hawk. I can’t help but think to myself…What a prick.

    Maybe i should show more respect to a person who claims (actually brags) he’s dated porn stars(cough). But i just don’t know what would make this author happy, what would quench his hatred of Hawk? Should we torture him? Maybe some sleep deprivation? Maybe some waterboarding? Or would the author be more satisfied with death by stoning or firing squad?

    How about?……You don’t like him…He’s no longer a Packer, move on and get a life.

    1. John Smith February 26, 2015

      Why are you listing Enhance Interrogations tactics ? AJ Hawk has rob the packers for the past 4 seasons, maybe not their salary cap, but their play off run. HE WAS one of the reasons why the packers defense has been straight up trash. Him and Jones gone will increase the packers defense 10x. Because Hawk was just as trash as jones was. You go ahead and keep supporting this overrated guy, he didn’t deserve to be on the packers roster after the 2011 season.

  8. John Smith February 26, 2015

    Aj Hawk sucks so much, I can’t explain how much I hated seeing him on the field. His blown coverage was hard to watch and his inability to attack the runner was unbearable. Every football season, I pray that the packers brings in a Line Backer to challenge his starting Job and what the fuck does the Packers do ? They just hand him the job, I have to wake up every Sunday, knowing that Hawk was going to start at Inside Linebacker and get push back and thrown around like a rag doll. I’ve waited a LOOOONNNNGGGG TTTTIIIMMMMEEEE for Hawk’s release.

    1. pf4l February 26, 2015

      Well that’s great…Now he’s gone, so you can stop whining.

  9. Vano Lucas February 26, 2015

    One more time–who the hell do we have to play MLB positions now?

    1. Phatgzus February 26, 2015

      Matthews, Barrington (You know, the guys who played it last year?), and Bradford (and Lattimore if they want him back). There’s also a draft and free agency. Some people just don’t get it…

      1. pf4l February 26, 2015

        Barrington?…lol

        1. Phatgzus February 27, 2015

          Was better thabn Hawk and Jones…

          1. pf4l February 27, 2015

            Look at Barrington covering Lynch on that pass play at the end of the NFCCG. He looked like a fucking clown.

          2. Phatgzus February 27, 2015

            That’s one play; he’s still young. Not saying he’s elite just better than what we had.

  10. DJ February 26, 2015

    “Lets Reflect on AJ Hawk’s Packer Career” No. Lets not. Lets say we did but we didnt. Lets just bask in the additional cap space instead. Thank You.

  11. Shawn Neuser February 26, 2015

    The Packers tried to replace AJ Hawk, several times, but injuries always saved his position.
    In 2010, the Packers were moving to Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar at ILB. They both ended up on the IR.
    Then it was supposed to be Desmond Bishop and DJ Smith at ILB. They both got injured and then got cut.
    Then it was supposed to be Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore at ILB. Jones missed much of 2013 with injury and Lattimore ended 2014 on the IR.
    No one who could replace Hawk could stay healthy.

  12. Vano Lucas February 27, 2015

    Bradford and Lattimore? LOL. And Matthews played MLB only sporadically in the second half of the season. I’d say the MLB position is a gaping hole in our defense. As for the draft and free agency, that’s little more than rolling the dice. Thompson is going to have to get awfully creative here.

    1. Phatgzus February 27, 2015

      Peppers, Neal, Perry could all potentially make the switch as well. Furthermore, the Packers play their base D maybe 12 snaps a game.