Recently, I had the chance to meet Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk to discuss his charity work in Ohio and Wisconsin. A few weeks ago I touched on that meeting briefly and what it meant to me personally, and afterwards A.J. was kind enough to be willing to do a short Q&A with me for Acme Packing Company to give his perspective on the upcoming season and also to help give anyone interested in helping out with his charity some details on what to do.
APC: Everybody talks about the NFL being a business, but what kinds of feelings do you have seeing some former teammates playing for rival teams?
A.J. Hawk: I have played long enough now that I see a lot of former teammates on rival teams. As players we understand the business side of the game. We all know that at any time you could get cut, traded, or sign as a free agent with another team. That is something that we sign on for the day you get to the league. But it is fun to hit your friends that are on other teams.
APC: Are there any specific people who you think will step up to fill Charles Woodson's leadership role on defense? Also, are there any young players who you can see making a big jump from last year to this coming season?
A.J.: Our team is full of young talent. I think we will see multiple guys on defense step up and make big plays all year. There is a different feeling without Charles in the locker room. He was a highly respected, amazing player. We will miss him. For us to make another run at the Super Bowl we need to have a dominant defense.
APC: Do you have any particular plays or games that stand out in your mind as favorite football memories, either with the Packers or at Ohio State?
A.J.: I have been lucky enough to play football for over 20 years now. It's hard to point to one specific play. Beating Michigan up there my senior year was a special game that I will always remember. Mostly, I take away all the amazing relationships I formed while at Ohio State. A lot of us still stay in contact. Now our kids play together too. Me, Bobby (Carpenter), and (Anthony) Schlegel all got together to watch Ohio State play in March Madness a few weeks ago. It is just like we are back in college but our wives and kids are there now so its that much better.
Winning the Super Bowl is still the greatest moment of my NFL career. I am very lucky to have been a part of that team. It was a special year and we will always have that. Now I want to go get another ring. One is not enough.
APC: Who's the biggest clown or practical joker in the locker room?
A.J.: Our team is so young that we have lots of clowns. It is a very loose and fun environment. Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are always messing with people, especially the young O linemen. The D line as a whole are all awesome guys that have a lot of fun.
A.J.: The Packers-Vikings rivalry is the best in the NFL in my opinion. The games have a similar feel to the Michigan games. The week leading up to the Bears is always full of energy and excitement. They are always very physical games. I think playing the Vikings and Bears twice a year is one of the best parts of being a Packer.
APC: Could you give us a basic description of the hair donation process in case some of the readers would be interested in getting involved with Locks for Kids?
A.J.: Basically anyone that wants to cut their hair off to donate just needs to go to a salon and let them know. Usually the barber or stylist has donated before. If you have 12 inches of hair to cutoff, go to the salon get it cut and then you can send it to our foundation. The website Hawkslocksforkids.org has the address and details on where to send it. We are very appreciative of all the great people who have already sent in hair to be donated and made into wigs for kids fighting cancer, and other ailments.
I would like to thank A.J. on behalf of the Acme Packing Company community for being willing to take the time to talk with me and give us a true inside perspective into the locker room, as well as for all the great work he does in the community.
I know that I for one will be paraphrasing Hawk's "One Is Not Enough" comment as "13 Is Not Enough" very frequently this season as I follow this Packers team's quest for a 14th NFL Championship.