Hey, people, how are you?
My Bengals are 6-0 going into our Bye week, but we’re not celebrating anything yet, we just need to keep it going.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and while I wore pink cleats and gloves in honor of this great campaign, like many others I’ve been directly impacted. Georgie, my grandma, 10 years ago had a scare but had treatment, and is doing well at 92, still going strong living on her own. The best advice I have from this personal experience is to get tested!
In this week’s column I’ll talk about balancing a busy professional and personal life. The key is not to get too high or too low, and trusting in the people around me — my family, close friends, and my football teammates. They all support my efforts off and on the field.
For example, if I had to describe my personality, I grew up as a pretty shy kid, youngest of three boys. Laura, who I met in my sophomore college year and who became my wife, helped me become more social. I don’t feel shy anymore as I enjoy being around people but I still wouldn’t call myself extroverted.
My family are my rock and I enjoy the responsibility raising my kids to be good people and to care about others. Laura and I are always trying to become better parents, and make sure we’re present when we’re with them. They drop me off at the Stadium on gamedays, and my kids say prayers for me to be safe and do well — they’re so positive and always have my back.
Of all pro sports, I’m lucky that football probably has the best schedule for having a family. Because if we have a road game, we fly out Saturday and get back home Sunday night. It’s not 9-5, because we’re working 7 days a week, but I’m usually home before my kids go to bed even on our longest practice days. Honestly, I don’t have to go long chunks of time away from them.
When we’re together, we have the Newport Aquarium right across the Ohio River from us and our kids are obsessed with visiting there lately. I always had fish growing up, including 10 piranhas that I had in a 125-gallon tank in my room. I saved my money to get them, I had to clean their tank every week, and they were my pride and joy for years. It makes sense that my kids are big into fish right now.
Now onto some fan questions…
Fan @Writer614 asked what’s it like having ex-NFL quarterback Brady Quinn as a brother-in-law. I played against him in my senior year at Ohio State, and he was a great player. Now he’s doing an awesome job as a NFL game analyst for Fox. I joke with him all the time, he’s married to a great lady but he looks like a male model. He’s straight out of central casting for a quarterback — Brady’s got the whole package. But he’s a humorous guy, works super hard, and I have a lot of respect for him, he has become my third brother.
What music do I listen to when I relax? It depends. I can kick back to Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett, Hendrix, Dave Matthews….right now, I’m on a big Johnny Cash kick, and my kids love him, too.
Fan @PackQueen asked what’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” song? There’s a couple that people might not expect. When Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” came out, I was into that song, loved it. I’m not scared to admit it’s a good song. My daughter loves Katy Perry, and I admit I like some of her tunes, you can’t hide from it. Hey, I even know a couple of Taylor Swift songs.
Another fan asked about relaxation techniques I use. I do a little yoga and I’m a fan of using a sensory deprivation tank. You float in salt water at skin temperature in total darkness, no sounds, no distractions, for an hour and just relax big time. I have seen great benefits using the tank.
To wrap up, that photo of me looking like Tom Cruise in Top Gun is when I went flying with the Blue Angels flight squadron. It was awesome, they did everything, loops and rolls, but I puked multiple times, man.
My wife, who is way past that heaving phase, is due with our third child in December and since we don’t know the baby’s sex yet, it’ll be an early Christmas present! Check back in two weeks after we do battle with our great AFC North rivals, the Steelers. Who dey!
Stay tuned for more installments of this Ticketmaster Insider series with Super Bowl champion and Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk. A.J.’s not only an incredible athlete, he’s also a total music lover and live entertainment fanatic. He named his kids Lennon and Hendrix after all. A.J. will be posting throughout the season (see his previous column here), so keep coming back for behind-the-scenes talk, thoughts on the game, and more. And stay plugged in with A.J.’s Podcasts (The Hawkcast) and his charity site Hawk’s Locks for Kids.
Catch your favorite NFL team as they charge the gridiron at a stadium near you.