At home with the Hawks, Wisconsin's hottest couple
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GREEN BAY -- For all of his triumphs on the football field -- the national championship he won at Ohio State and the national awards that followed -- A.J. Hawk still is haunted by one day when he walked off the field with his shoulders slumped, head down and eyes watery.
It was Jack Murphy (now Qualcomm) Stadium in San Diego.
A.J. Hawk was 10 years old, and he had just lost in the national Punt, Pass and Kick competition sponsored by the National Football League.
"I shanked my kick," says Hawk, now 22 and in his first week of training camp as a rookie linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. "I did Punt Pass and Kick for awhile and it was fun. I used to get to go on the field at halftime of the Bengals' games in Cincinnati. That was great.
"I made it to San Diego and I totally shanked my kick. It was terrible. I still haven't gotten over that. I almost won, even with a horrible kick. It still bugs me, to this day."
As Hawk relives the painful memory, his wife, Laura, smiles; it's a smile of love and understanding, not mockery. Sitting next to her husband on a leather coach in the family room of their new home, which overlooks a golf course in a new subdivision located about a 15-minute drive from Lambeau Field, Laura finds it amusing and endearing that her hulk of a husband -- a two-time All-American, Lombardi Award winner, the fifth player taken in the first round of the National Football League Draft and a man who at the time of the interview was on the verge of signing a $37.5 million contract with the Packers -- still gets upset about an errant kick from more than a decade ago.
"That's him," Laura says. "He doesn't like to lose."
When asked if that attitude carries over into the non-football aspects of her husband's life, such as a friendly game of Scrabble, the vivacious Laura smiles again.
"We're really competitive, but we don't ever play board games," she says. "We play real sports. When we play basketball, it's the most physical thing. He never lets up on me. I'm like a person he doesn't know."
With his older brother, Ryan, working out in the nearby dining room, which has been converted to an exercise area, A.J. begins to mount a half-hearted defense.
"It's not just me," he says, his protest part husband and part little brother.
"If we had a referee, she'd get called for a lot of fouls. I always have to hit three (-pointers) in her face, because every time I drive, she tries to knock me down."
Laura's competitive streak comes out on the golf course, too. When dusk falls on the neighborhood, she and A.J., a skilled player who carded a double eagle, sometimes venture out to play the hole that abuts their backyard.
"I'm pretty terrible at golf," Laura says. "I usually start throwing clubs and walk off after my first shot."
When the games end, the fun continues for the Hawks.
"A.J. will make a competition out of who can walk up the stairs quicker or who can get to the door first," says Laura, 23. "It's physicality all the time with him. I don't even know we're racing half the time and he's already, in his mind, won. That's the way we both are. It's kind of sad, really."
For the Packers and their rabid fans, who are a decade removed from a Super Bowl triumph and still stinging from a 4-12 record last season, that obsession with winning is hardly a sad circumstance. They expect big things from Hawk, who was the highest-rated defensive player in the draft, and they expect them quickly.
"Just watch him play," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said the night Hawk was drafted. "I think it speaks for itself. He's been consistent throughout his career at Ohio State. He's a very level-headed young man. He grew up in the Midwest (Centerville, Ohio), and we just feel he's a great fit for the Green Bay Packers."
Though he's still finding his way around his new town, A.J. feels like Green Bay will be a good fit for him. The life-in-a-fishbowl existence that Packers players experience isn't daunting for him for two big reasons.
For starters, he and Laura don't like to go out that much.
"We're pretty much homebodies," Laura says, adding that the couple spends free time working out together or watching favorite TV shows like "Entourage," "Desperate Housewives," and -- a guilty pleasure -- the MTV show "The Hills."
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Paolo Visitor said: Beautiful, interesting site. Has added a site in bookmarks, tomorrow I shall return, to esteem still.:)
George said: I am embarrassed that Milwaukee is represented by the people responding to this article. Do you have to insult them just because they're famous and featured in this article? They seem like a very nice, good looking couple making a fresh start in a new community. I have a sneaking suspicion that none of your girlfriends have anything on her...I will agree with the comment about the makeup... She doesn't need it.
Alan J said: WI hottest couple? You're kidding. Right?
brewcrewdrew said: nice interview, cant wait to see aj play.. wow.. move over deanna farve
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