Hawk Talk: Season’s Greetings

Hawk Talk: Season’s Greetings
Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) lines up against Cleveland Browns tight end Jim Dray (81) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Hey all, Season’s Greetings. Is it starting to feel like Christmas where you are? We’re waiting for news on our new baby any day now, so we’ll keep you posted.

Let’s talk some football and then about what the holidays mean to me. First, my Buckeyes are playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. My kids and I will be dressed in Ohio State scarlet and gray at home to watch a game that should be awesome as it’s the 10th anniversary of the last time they battled each other in the Fiesta Bowl. It was my senior year, and we beat the Irish (and my brother-in-law Brady Quinn) 34-20, to win my third Fiesta Bowl title. This will be an amazing experience for the young guys even though expectations are so high, that anything that’s not a national championship, which they won last year, feels like a letdown.

As for my Bengals, we’re seeded #2 in the AFC right now but haven’t clinched a playoff position or our AFC North division…yet. During my Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XLV title win in 2011, we had to battle to make the playoffs, having to win our final two games to get a wildcard spot. Now my Bengals have three games to play (December 20 at 49ers, December 28 on Monday Night Football in Denver, January 03 home to Baltimore). The good thing is, we win and we’re in, it’s in our hands and we don’t have to rely on anybody else’s results. We lost a tough one to the Steelers last weekend but we feel good where we’re at. We’re 10-3 and a lot of teams would love to be in our situation.

We’re playing San Fran this weekend for the first time in their new stadium [Levi’s Stadium], which will also be the site of Super Bowl 50. So, the ultimate goal is to be back there on February 7. Our great quarterback Andy Dalton will miss this weekend’s game with a banged up thumb, and he’s playing at such a high level, it’s tough to see him go out. But we have confidence in quarterback AJ McCarron, who won back-to-back national titles at Alabama. As for our Defense, we’ve got to find ways to get a couple of more plays, create some turnovers, do our part.

By the way, did you hear that Coldplay is the half time Super Bowl entertainment, I love their music and some buddies say they’re amazing live. Their singer Chris Martin says they’ve “put everything into” their new album, A Head Full of Dreams, and we hear they’re also doing a stadium tour in 2016, and hopefully it’s coming to Ohio.

Back at home, we’re expecting our new baby to arrive pretty much any day now. Our kids Lennon and Hendrix are really excited, helping their mom where they can. We’ve talked about it because my sister-in-law (Laura’s sister) just had a new baby girl, so they have a new cousin. And they’re so looking forward to their new sibling.

We have three trees up. A smaller one in our Cincy condo, a “kid tree” which they decorated, and we have two big live trees in our Columbus home — they love helping out, making sure we put water at the base. Our schedule is working out nice with that Monday night game (December 28). I’ll be back to Columbus for Christmas morning when the kids open their presents, the baby should be born, so it’s going to be a great day. Probably just us and the kids for the morning, and then some family coming in the afternoon when we do our gift exchange. My brothers visited last week with their children to do our gift exchange, as they’ll be with their in-laws over Christmas.

Our Foundation (Hawk’s Locks for Kids) hosted a kids’ Christmas party last week at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, where a lot of the kids are going through chemo and radiation. My uncle came dressed as a Santa and did a great job, for three hours, and we got them gifts and it felt awesome to bring some smiles to their faces.

A fan asked if I had any tips about over-eating: Great question! A lot would like to know that secret. I love Christmas Day as much as anybody, but it’s not so much about the food as the atmosphere and energy. My suggestion is to drink a bunch of water before eating, as it’ll fill you up somewhat and you won’t eat as much. Simple but effective. Then go for a walk with your family after dinner, with the dogs.

You know, like those sweet kids at the Hospital, there’s a lot of pain in the world, this is a good time to reach out to your family, neighbors and others. It’s something I always teach my own children. To be generous and considerate.

Check out my new Hawkcast with outstanding sportscaster Pam Oliver. Happy Holidays! And, Who Dey!!!

The Hawk Talk is a 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, 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.