By – Nick Sheehy
There comes a time when every NFL player faces the reality of retiring.
AJ Hawk wasn’t thinking about that date when he played in the Fiesta Bowl three times over his four-year college career at Ohio State.
Some of Hawk’s greatest memories as a player were at the Fiesta Bowl, including the classic 2003 BCS National Championship when No. 2 Ohio State beat No.1 Miami, 31-24, in double overtime.
Hawk was named Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP in 2004 and 2006, only the second player ever to be named Fiesta Bowl MVP multiple times.
“We were so comfortable playing at the Fiesta Bowl – it was amazing,” Hawk said. “I remember just how big those games felt. Each day leading up to the game felt bigger and bigger. My senior year was the last game of my college career and that was so special.
“We won all three times at the Fiesta Bowl, so I have so many great memories, especially the National Championship game. That will always be one of the greatest accomplishments of my career.”
Fast forward to January 7, 2017. Over the course of his 11 NFL seasons, Hawk established himself as one of the league’s most durable players. But it was time for Hawk to announce his departure from football on The MMQB NFL podcast with Albert Breer.
At 32 years old, the former Super Bowl XLV Champion was ready to find a new career path.
“I was prepared,” said Hawk. “I was definitely ready to make that transition and thought about it a lot. It wasn’t like suddenly football just stopped and I had nothing to do. I was ready to pursue something I was passionate about.”
That passion is what guided the Columbus, Ohio, native to launch his broadcasting career. Hawk has been a game analyst with FOX Sports, works with Sirius XM radio and hosts a variety of sports shows.
“Since retiring I’ve been very active in the broadcast world. On Sirius XM Radio, I’ve been doing satellite radio with the NFL channel, multiple college channels and even co-host an MMA show,” Hawk said. “I’m all over the place. Since there are so many different avenues to cover sports now, I’m kind of doing it all.”
Besides making appearances on Sirius XM NFL shows and hosting SXM Fight Nation, Hawk has his own podcast called The HawkCast.
“The HawkCast was created out of my desire for learning about the most interesting people in the world. A short list of the diverse group we talk to on the podcast includes world-class athletes, Hall of Fame broadcasters, war heroes, bestselling authors and many more. This is my platform for sharing these great stories,” Hawk said.
Some of the prominent guests that have appeared on The Hawkcast include NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and broadcaster Joe Buck.
During football season, Hawk can be found in a broadcast booth for college football games. The transition from the football field to broadcasting has presented new challenges for the former Green Bay Packer.
“I like calling games the most and being there in person. I really enjoy feeling the atmosphere, especially in college,” Hawk said. “I still watch football and follow it. You really have to apply yourself in the booth in order to break down what’s going on. With the pressure and preparation that goes into it, especially pregame, it’s a lot harder than it looks.”
“I really enjoy my podcast so I plan on staying with it. With so many different platforms and streaming content, it’s everchanging, so I plan on being part of it on different fronts,” Hawk said. “Doing shows, podcast, games. . .there are all these different things that are interesting and challenging so I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon and getting a so-called real job.”