"We're connecting through Detroit and I'd feel weird walking through the Detroit airport wearing that thing," Hawk told Packer Report on Friday morning, about 12 hours after the Green Bay Packers received their Super Bowl rings in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Hawk called Thursday night's celebration "first class," "awesome," and typical of the organization. As one of the captains who the team consulted before making the ring – Hawk said he was pulled aside by Russ Ball while signing his new contract just before the lockout – Hawk was surprised at the finished product.
"It was shiny. It was shinier than I thought," Hawk said of his first impression. "Obviously, it's really big and heavy but I think the amount of diamonds on it are what surprised me off the bat – and still do surprise me looking at it now. The whole top of it is basically covered in diamonds, so it's impressive."
It was an impressive exclamation mark to an impressive and remarkable season for Hawk individually and the Packers as a whole. Hawk went from not playing a single snap on defense in the opener at Philadelphia to being an every-down stalwart on the league's second-ranked scoring defense. Rather than pay Hawk $10 million as the final year of his rookie-year contract, the Packers briefly released him and re-signed him to a five-year deal worth a reported $33.75 million on March 3.
A.J. Hawk and little Lennon.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
"The Super Bowl, I don't think you can wrap your head around it until years down the road," he said. "Maybe when we're done playing football is when you can finally appreciate how big of a deal it is and how big it is and what an honor it is just to get one. It definitely made it more real but I still think you can't get the full affect of it until maybe when you're 60, 70 years old."
Hawk said he only has seen highlights from the game and doesn't plan to watch the entire game until viewing the coaches' tape at the stadium after the lockout. Asked what stood out from that game beyond the obvious thrill of victory and confetti shower, Hawk said it was how the team reacted to the big-game pressure.
"I think we did a good job of not letting the game be too big of a stage for us," he said. "We played in a bunch of big games over the last couple of years. I think going in, there was kind of a question of the Steelers had won two Super Bowls over the last four or five years and they had the experience factor. We felt like once the actual football started, none of that really mattered. That was the theme throughout the whole game. There were definitely ups and downs throughout the game and we held on and got the win."
Most impressive about holding on and getting the win was how it was done. In a season in which the Packers lost key player after key player to injury, Green Bay held off Ben Roethlisberger and Co. despite losing cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields to injuries. That thrust seldom-used Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee into prime roles, and they performed to the team's high expectations.
"We have a ton of trust in all of our guys," Hawk said. "Every guy that's dressed for the game, we feel like they can play. It was fun to see the little highlight package right before we got the ring and it showed Jarrett Bush getting an interception in the Super Bowl. That was great to see, and guys like that stepped up. That was kind of the story of our year, though, so why not have that happen in the Super Bowl?"
One of the memorable postgame moments was Hawk holding his 2-month-old daughter amid the confetti of Cowboys Stadium. Between little Lennon and Hawk's postseason wrist surgery – he says he'll be "good to go" for training camp – Hawk and his wife, Laura, haven't gone out on any celebratory adventures.
"My daughter's only a little over 6 months old and we feel like she's a grownup already," he said. "It's crazy to us. She doesn't crawl yet but she rolls all over the place. It looks like she wants to crawl. We're trying to enjoy it now because we know once she starts moving, it's a whole other ballgame."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.