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A.J. Hawk ‘Embodied’ Being a Member of Green Bay Packers

A.J. Hawk, the Green Bay Packers' career leader in tackles, announced on Tuesday he is retiring as a member of the team that drafted him in 2006.

A.J. Hawk is retiring as a member of the Green Bay Packers, the team with which he owns the franchise record for tackles.

“The first thing that needs to be said about A.J. Hawk is that he is a good man,” Packers general manager Thompson said in the team’s announcement. “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.”

Hawk was the fifth overall pick of the 2006 draft. While he didn’t provide the sizzle that the sixth overall pick, tight end Vernon Davis, made with the San Francisco 49ers, he was a reliable key to the Green Bay defense. The Packers have kept tackles as a stat since 1975. Hawk finished with 1,118 stops in nine seasons, breaking John Anderson’s record of 1,020, which he accomplished in 12 seasons. Hawk led the team in tackles six times.

“Some of my fondest memories of coming in this building and meeting A.J. right off the bat, having watched his four-year career when I was still in college at that point, had an immediate impact,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said on Tuesday, the first day of the team’s offseason program. “As that guy with the long hair that everybody knew who he was, and even more so than that, it was his reliability, dependability. He could get us lined up and put us in a position to excel. He was always accountable. He hardly ever missed a game or a play. That’s one of those things that sticks out to me. That middle linebacker position was always accounted for by him.”

Hawk, indeed, was Mr. Reliable. He played in 142 of a possible 144 regular-season games with 136 starts for the Packers. He added 19 sacks, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. His one and only Pro Bowl season came in 2010, when he 134 tackles (No. 1 on the team) and three interceptions (tied for No. 1 among NFL linebackers) while anchoring a defense that finished second in points allowed en route to winning Super Bowl XLV.

“Him and I became fast friends,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the first pick in 2005. “I sat with him at the Welcome Luncheon for his family and the draft picks when that happened. We’ve been close friends since that day. We sat next to each other at meetings for nine years. I’ve got a lot of stories about our time together. He’s just one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played with. A great leader by example. And just a guy who, I think, embodied what it means to be a Packer. He was great in the community and he was a great locker room guy, great team guy. He put his body on the line for our team many times and he was an important part of our success. He’s been a longtime friend, and that’s going to continue.”

Hawk played with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015 and appeared in one game for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. Among all players selected in 2006, Hawk ranks seventh in tackles — trailing D'Qwell Jackson, Chad Greenway, DeMeco Ryans and Stephen Tulloch among linebackers. Of that group of linebackers, Hawk ranks No. 1 in sacks (20) and second in interceptions (nine).

“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,” coach Mike McCarthy said in the team announcement. “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.”

Hawk is scheduled to address reporters on Wednesday.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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