GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Linebacker A.J. Hawk announced Tuesday that will retire as a member of the Green Bay Packers after 11 NFL seasons.
''The first thing that needs to be said about A.J. Hawk is that he is a good man,'' general manager Ted Thompson said. ''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.''
The 2006 draft pick out of Ohio State ranks first in franchise history with 1,118 career tackles. Hawk played in 142 of a possible 144 regular-season games with Green Bay, appearing in all 16 contests in eight of his nine seasons with the Packers. He played one season with Cincinnati and appeared in one game for Atlanta last year. The Packers said his 158 games played from 2006-15 were the most among NFL linebackers over that span, and he led Green Bay in tackles five times during his career (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012-13), tied with Nick Barnett for most in team history.
Star linebacker Clay Matthews said some of his fondest memories came when he arrived and met Hawk right away.
''As that guy with the long hair, everybody knew who he was, and even more so than that, it was his reliability, dependability,'' Matthews said Tuesday. ''He could line up with the other 10 guys on defense, 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.''
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy says Hawk's ''leadership and toughness were instrumental'' in the team's success.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he has been friends with Hawk for years.
''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,'' Rodgers said. ''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.''
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