This is an article from the Oct. 21, 2013 issue
The inside linebacker picked up the slack for his fellow long-haired Packers 'backer—injured pass-rush specialist Clay Matthews—with his first three sacks of the season in a 19--17 win over the Ravens on Sunday, lifting Green Bay to 3--2.
DAN PATRICK:When receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb got hurt against Baltimore, how did it affect the defense?
A.J. HAWK: That was an opportunity for us to step up. The truth is, the last couple of years our defense has let this offense down. When you've got A-Rod at the helm, he's always going to put up yards and points. We want them to be able to count on us sometimes.
DP:Can we really call Aaron Rodgers A-Rod?
AH: You can definitely call him that now because the Yankees' A-Rod is having a few issues.
DP:Was Andy Roddick the first A-Rod?
AH: I'm going to have to check my Wikipedia.
DP:You have the Browns this weekend. Growing up in Ohio and playing for Ohio State, were you a Cleveland fan?
AH: I was a Bengals fan. I grew up 45 minutes north of Cincinnati. Boomer Esiason, Ickey Woods, all those guys. I loved them.
DP:So you understand the Bengals-Browns rivalry?
AH: Of course. I still have my roots there, and that's where I'll be when I'm done playing football.
DP:Better rivalry, Browns-Bengals, Michigan--Ohio State?
AH: For me, it's not a question. Michigan--Ohio State is the greatest game there is.
DP:Are you the defensive player with the speaker inside your helmet?
AH: I am. My inside linebacker coach, Winston Moss, is relaying the defenses to me. I have to let everybody else know what is happening.
DP:Does Moss say anything other than play calls?
AH: They cut it off with 15 seconds left in the play clock. If the call comes in soon enough, Coach Moss will add a few things. If the game is going well, he might make a little bit of a joke of me being run over on the previous play.
DP:Any curse words?
AH: That definitely happens. Especially if one of the inside 'backers misses a tackle. You have to put your hand up to the sideline and say, I know, I got it, my bad.
DP:If a fire alarm goes off in a team meeting, who is the first one out?
AH: As in a lot of corporate jobs, I'm guessing, we sit there like nothing happened. Coach keeps going on his Power Point. We don't want to miss a minute of meeting time.
DP:What if you ran out screaming and yelling, Fire?
AH: That would be awesome. If we get another one, I'll do it. I'll report back to you.
DP:Aaron Rodgers has a good sense of humor. Could he pull that off?
AH: If Aaron stood up and started running and yelling, he has enough juice here that the whole team and the coaches would follow him.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira told me he tries to support teammate Alex Rodriguez without going into details. "Guys go through divorces and legal troubles in the off-season," Teixeira said. "I don't call them up and say, 'Hey what'd your lawyer say?' That's none of my business." ... Cal Ripken Jr. is interested in managing, but doesn't feel the need to advertise for a job: "I'm still in inner circles. The guys I've talked to know what I know about baseball.... I'm not lobbying. I'm not using the media to say, 'Hey, baseball world, I'm ready.' I've never done that." ... Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice praised his former QB Steve Young's athleticism—to a point. "He could have played any position," Rice said. "But [he was] the worst dancer ever. We had to work with him. If he was spontaneous in any way or tried to show a little coolness, we were like, C'mon, Steve."