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Tuesdays With Wilde: A.J. Hawk

Every Tuesday, we’ll sit down with one of the Packers players, coaches or administrators and spend some time getting a small glimpse into their lives away from football. For our second edition, linebacker A.J. Hawk talks about his Dave Matthews obsession, what it’s like to bunk with wild-and-crazy Brady Poppinga and much, much more.

 

I am very boring. I really don’t have any pre-game superstitions or traditions. When I was young, I always thought about having some superstition, but then I didn’t want to be stuck to one thing. I didn’t want to get on the field and go, ‘Oh, I forgot to tie my left shoe first,’ and then be all thrown off. So I never got into anything.

 

I’m not really into hard-core rock. People always think that when they see me, with the long hair. They think I’m into the crazy, death-metal thing. But I’m not into that at all. I’m a big Dave Matthews fan. He’s all over my iPod. I listen to a lot of Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley. I’ve been to like 35 Dave Matthews shows. I started going to his concerts when I was in sixth grade. And I’ve been going anytime I can ever since. I met him – without me being a celebrity or anything. Me, my brother and my dad went to a show when I was a freshman in high school in North Carolina, and his bus happened to be parked at our hotel, and I sat out there all day and waited for him to walk out. I got a picture with him and everything. It was cool.

 

My all-time favorite movie is Top Gun, for sure. That was Tom Cruise’s prime, I think. Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, all those guys. It was great. If you don’t like Top Gun, you’re not an American.

 

I drive a Chevy Tahoe, thanks to Bergstrom. If you go to games, you’ve probably seen the commercial me and B.J. Raji did together, the one where we’re holding up car. I know, I know. But it’s better than me just talking with a green screen behind me.

 

My favorite TV show is The Office. Do you watch it? If you don’t watch it, you don’t understand, I guess. It’s just the perfect combination of great writing and a full cast of actors that together are all unbelievable. You don’t have to work in an office to find it funny. But if you don’t, it makes you want to work in an office, even though the whole show is about how bad it sucks to work in an office. Everybody watches it. My whole family loves it.

 

I’ve been lucky with jobs. The first real job I had other than working football camps, which I grew up doing, was I was a gardener-type guy, at a place called Gourmet Gardens. It was right next to our high school, so I could just walk there after football. I would do whatever they needed – mow the grass, plant flowers, water, everything. I don’t do too much of that right now. I still work in the yard, but I don’t know anything. I wish I still remembered all the stuff with the flowers. I’d have saved a little bit of money instead of having people come in and do it.

 

Growing up, my favorite team was the Bengals. I grew up about 45 minutes away from Cincinnati, so I used to go to Bengals games. I told Kevin Greene the other day that I used to watch him come into Riverfront Stadium and kill the Bengals. They were bad when I was a kid, too. They were good when I was too young to remember, when Cris Collinsworth first got there. But they had some studs. Boomer Esiason and Ickey Woods – Boomer’s still my favorite player. I loved him. I don’t do the Ickey Shuffle though. I watched it though.

 

My workout routine, it’s almost like a misconception. I don’t spend hours and hours and hours on end in the weight room. I hate that. I get in there, and I get my work done. I like to be in there everyday, but for bursts. I can’t just hang out all day in there. I have some buddies who do that, and it drives me crazy.

 

Fans don’t know how much I like Green Bay. People don’t believe me when I say it. I was hoping I’d get drafted here, and it’s worked out for me. Obviously it’s a unique organization without an owner and having the best of the best here, but then the other side of it, too: It’s a nice place to live, it’s easy to get around, people are so nice. When I have friends and family come in, they can’t believe how genuinely nice everybody is and how they want to help you out.

 

I don’t do MySpace, Facebook or Twitter. I let Nick (Barnett) take care of that for me.

 

We have three dogs. Two big ones. A German Shepherd, and a Belgian Malinois – you’ve probably never heard of it. We got her when she was 2. We adopted her. Our oldest dog is a tiny little three-pound Chihuahua, Todd. He’s pretty famous.

 

My favorite moment as a Packer was the fourth quarter of that Seattle playoff game two years ago, in the snow and everything. That was a special moment, I think for everybody.

 

We definitely have a nice house, but I haven’t really bought anything crazy. But my wife just bought me a car for back in Ohio – a ’96 White Bronco. Like the one O.J. was cruising around in. I’d wanted one forever. The guy kept it nice. There’s no rust or anything. No, I didn’t get it from Al Cowlings. That would have been too much. But I would have loved that.

 

Away from football, I’m into a little bit of everything. I’m a big reader. I read a ton. Do you know what Kindle is? Kindle is the greatest thing ever. I found out about it after I saw Daryn Colledge always reading his. I love it. It all depends on my mood. I read a lot of books about Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – military books, Navy Seal books. And then I’m always reading about different nutritional stuff. I’m reading “The China Study” right now. Tony Gonzalez has his own nutrition book now, but this is the book that kind of got him into it. I’m reading that right now.

 

I still have the hyperbaric chamber – it’s in our basement. I don’t sleep in it at night, but I spend a decent amount of time in it. I’ll read in there, or just watch TV in there, take a nap when I have time. If I’m not doing something with Laura, we’re down there watching TV. Everyone has that place in the house where they watch TV. That’s our place. You can’t really tell. The room is just set up for it. That was a splurge, I guess.

 

If I were NFL commissioner for a day, I would let us hit the quarterbacks more.

 

I loved A-Rod’s answer to that one question about how ‘my best can also be my worst quality.’ It was so fake. That’s like going into a job interview and saying, ‘I work too hard.’ That’s not even a real answer.

 

I saw Aaron said, ‘I wish I was better at relationships.’ That’s understandable. I wish I was better at playing the guitar. I try. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not giving up though. I’m trying. I’ve been trying for a long time, though. I don’t think I’ll be starting a band with him. I don’t think he could keep up.

 

My favorite NFL city to visit is Seattle. It was sweet. We stayed at this Marriott right on the water, and it was awesome. The hotel was sweet, we had a flat-screen TV, Brady Poppinga and I were loving it. We just hung out, watched football went out on the balcony. We loved it.

 

Brady’s my road roommate – my roommate everywhere, really. It’s awesome. I told Matt Klein, if for some reason something happens to Brady and he’s not on the team, don’t put me with a roommate, because no one can compare to Brady. We’re on the same page with everything.

 

My wife Laura is the only person I could ever be with forever. She’s the perfect balance for me. She’s supportive, yet she’s real. She’s funny, goofy, weird – perfect for me. I’m not like most normal guys, I guess. I guess it helps that she has a sports-oriented family. But she’s so damn competitive with everything, so when we play one-on-one basketball, we kill each other. And yes, we do race to the car. I mean, we have. It’s not a normal, everyday occurrence. But if she wants to get in that mode, I don’t back down. We’re not two big meatheads racing each other to the car all the time, but it’s happened.

 

The most important thing my parents taught me was to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you.’ When I was a young kid, I was so shy. I couldn’t even speak to adults – I couldn’t do that until I was basically in college. When parents would give us rides and stuff, I was too scared to even say ‘thank-you.’ Now, I realize how to treat people. I don’t know what flipped the switch. I’ve learned to not worry as much. I was just such a shy kid.

 

Compared to when I was a rookie, I’m much more open to everything – on the field and off. I do things now that I never thought I’d do. Like the NFL Play 60 thing. I do things I didn’t have any interest in before. I was all-football all-the-time. I’m more balanced now. When I came out of college, I wasn’t. Balance is the key to everything. My football approach will never change. But off the field, I’ve got more balance in everything I do.

 

My favorite place to eat right now is Kavarna, the vegetarian place in downtown Green Bay. It’s awesome. I’m all about the black bean burger. It’s great. I’m telling you. Or the southwestern wrap – it’s the black bean burger with vegetables, all cut up. I’d eat it every day if I could. (Strength and conditioning coach) Mark Lovat goes there a lot. He lives right by there, so he turned me onto it. It’s cool. Every once in awhile they’ll have a little dude playing the guitar there, too. Green Bay’s cool in that way. In Ohio, in Columbus, we didn’t have these little eclectic places that you wouldn’t expect here. And the people are awesome.

 

My closest friend on the team is Brady Poppinga, or Aaron Rodgers. Brady, I’ve been roommates with him since Day 1, when I got here. I’m with Brady all the time on defense. But off the field, not in the locker room, I spend most of my time with Aaron.

 

When my career is over, I hope to have multiple Super Bowl rings. That’s all that matters.