When thinking of Ohio State football players it’s hard not to remember A.J. Hawk. The combination of his talent and long blonde hair made him impossible to miss on the football field. After a decorated college football career and a respectable 10 years in the NFL, what is former Ohio State star A.J. Hawk up to today?
Ohio State Career
While he was in the scarlet and gray the Buckeyes won a BCS National Championship, an Alamo Bowl and two Fiesta Bowls, including one against Notre Dame.
Hawk accomplished just about everything a linebacker from Ohio could dream of. He played for the Buckeyes, won a national title, was a two-time All-American, won the Lombardi Award, the Jack Lambert Trophy, was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, he made it to the NFL and oh yeah, he won a Super Bowl. If that doesn’t fit your definition of success, you don’t know Ohio State football.
The Green Bay Packers selected Hawk with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played with both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, making it to multiple NFC Championships and winning a Super Bowl.
Although he never made a Pro Bowl, Hawk put up big numbers on the football field. He had five seasons where he recorded over 100 tackles and five seasons with at least one interception, including a career high three interceptions in 2010. Hawk is the Packers all-time leader with 922 total tackles, he was so well-known for his tackling that a fan once asked him to tackle him at a golf event.
After nine seasons in Green Bay, Hawk was released and signed by the Bengals. After appearing in all 16 games for Cincinnati, Hawk was released once again. He wasn’t picked up in the offseason, but a couple of weeks into the 2016 season he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He appeared in one game but was released once again a few weeks later. Following the 2016-2017 season, Hawk announced his retirement as a Green Bay Packer.
When Hawk retired from the NFL, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had plenty of praise for his former linebacker:
“We were fortunate to make A.J. my first pick as head coach in 2006, and he spent the next nine years giving everything he had to the Green Bay community and the Packers. His leadership and toughness were instrumental in all of our success, and we thank him for all that he did for the organization and the community. We wish A.J., Laura and the rest of the Hawk family all the best, and I am confident that whatever the future holds, he will be successful.”
What is A.J. Hawk Up To Today?
When Mike McCarthy said that he was confident that Hawk would have success in his post-football life, he was right. Today, the former NFL linebacker has his own show called The Hawk Cast, a podcast where he talks to people from all walks of life, including professional athletes, coaches, doctors, comedians and more. Buckeye fans will love the episode he recorded with Ohio State coach Ryan Day. Other notable guests include: Aaron Rodgers, Charles Barkley, Tom Segura, Logan Paul and more.
From the podcast website, on his hopes for the show:
“The HawkCast was created out of my passion for learning about the most interesting people in the world and wanting to know what made them who they are today. A short list of the diverse group we will get up close and personal with are: rock stars, hall of fame broadcasters, world class athletes, war heroes, bestselling authors, philosophers, and even an astronaut. This is my platform for sharing these great stories with a vast audience… YOU. Being a professional football player is my #1 desire, but a lifelong passion that has always existed is my interest in having a deep understanding of what makes people tick. These conversations will be a fun and different approach from most interviews you see. I put each person in a comfortable atmosphere to let them share their story with me and all of you. Thank you for tuning in and I look forward to going on this ride with you!”
On top of hosting his own podcast, Hawk also does a weekly show with Pat McAfee called McAfee & Hawk Sports Talk. In addition to the duo’s weekly show, Hawk also makes daily appearances on “The Pat McAfee Show.” Whenever McAfee needs a day off, Hawk will often step up and host the show.
Judging by the duo’s on air chemistry and social media activity, the two former NFL players appear to be close friends.
— AJ Hawk (@OfficialAJHawk) March 10, 2021
Honoring Pat Tillman and Hawks Locks For Kids
Following the attacks of September 11th, Pat Tillman decided to put his NFL career on hold to serve in the military. While in Afghanistan Tillman was killed by friendly fire and his death made national headlines. Inspired by the former Arizona Cardinal’s selflessness, A.J. Hawk and a few of his Ohio State teammates decided to grow out their hair like Tillman.
Hawk’s long blonde hair became a huge part of his identity – it got to the point where it would be hard to picture him without it. In 2012 after keeping his hair long for almost a decade, Hawk decided it was time for a change.
“I’d been thinking about cutting my hair for about a year,” he recalled. “I was wearing a hat every day because it was too much work. I had stupid, ratty hair. It had kind of run its course. The only reason I kept it long as long as I did was I didn’t know what I would look like with short hair.”
Hawk wasn’t just going to cut his hair and throw it away, he and his wife decided to donate it to a good cause.
“I always knew I was going to donate it,” he continued, “And it was Laura’s idea to build a foundation around it. I always wanted to find a cause, but I didn’t want to just put my name on something that I wasn’t passionate about.”
Being the Ohio man that he is, Hawk joined forces with the James Cancer Center in Columbus, a hospital that has a partnership with an organization called Wigs for Kids. The foundation provides wigs to children who have lost their hair from cancer treatments and other medical conditions. After he donated his own hair, Hawk took things a step further and started Hawks Locks For Kids, a fundraiser in support of Wigs For Kids.
Thanks to wigs for kids for partnering with us,my wife and I are proud to start Hawk’s locks for Kids which will be helping kids with cancer
— AJ Hawk (@OfficialAJHawk) March 2, 2012
Net worth and family
During his 10 year NFL career, Hawk earned $36,204,531 in contracts and has an estimated net worth of $20 million dollars today. Hawk is married to Laura Quinn Hawk, who is the the sister of former Notre Dame and NFL QB Brady Quinn. The couple’s relationship became mainstream news during Ohio State’s Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame. Throughout the game Quinn’s sister was shown on the broadcast wearing a makeshift half Notre Dame half Ohio State jersey, to represent both her brother and Hawk (her boyfriend at the time).
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) December 16, 2015
Today, the couple has two children, a boy named Hendrix Knight and a girl named Lennon Noel. They reside in Ohio, where both A.J. and Laura grew up.
What’s next for A.J. Hawk?
With money in the bank, a family at home, a thriving podcast and a fundraiser for a great cause, Hawk’s future seems pretty set. Judging by his work ethic and ingenuity on and off the football field, don’t be surprised to see him launch a new venture at some point in the future. For now you can catch him on The Hawk Cast or on The Pat McAfee show.
If there’s a list out there that compiles all of the ways in which a human can be successful, there’s a good chance A.J. Hawk checks a lot of those boxes.
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