Hawk Talk: Staying Motivated

Hawk Talk: Staying Motivated
St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) reacts before being tackled by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Cincinnati. (Photo by: AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Hey guys, hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

Ours was great, our kids loved it, we have a lot to give thanks for, and it was the first time being back in Ohio in ten years, very nice. And we’re waiting for an early Christmas present, as my wife is expecting our third child, very soon. We chose not to know the baby’s sex, and the medical people are very professional when they’re talking about sonograms and things, never letting out he or she, and always saying the “baby.”

My Bengals are 9-2 and in first place in the AFC North, but it’s no time to let up, we have to find ways to do all the extra little things that’ll get us over the hump into the NFL Playoffs.

So, this week, let’s talk about playing football in December, NFL crunch time, and about some tips I have to keep in shape even as you get older…and more beat up!

We have games against all our AFC North rivals, and we all play in outdoor stadiums, and in December, you never know how the weather will be. It could be freezing, and a thirty mile an hour wind to make it difficult kicking, for the quarterback throwing the ball, and the game can change very quickly in these conditions. If you’ve played in this before, the experience helps. But for guys handling the football, quarterbacks and punters, it’s a big adjustment. You can’t really practice for it, and you won’t know how you respond until you actually play in those games.

So what motivates me after 10 seasons? I’ve always loved sports, having played football, baseball, and basketball since I was in second grade. As I’ve gotten older, I think my motivation has actually gone up. I still want to realize my full potential, I’m not done, and I still want to win. I have been part of some big wins and big losses, and it can end really quickly. I heard once, that whether you make love or make sauce, do it with every fiber of your body — it’s so true.

I also try to set an example to my kids, that if you’re going to do something, do it one hundred percent, I’m not going to mess around — that’s how I feel about football, parenting, my podcasts, I just like to do it, trust my instincts and not micromanage every single decision.

Health-wise, some days I feel better than others, so I make sure to work through any issues I may have. There’s no real secret, what’s worked for me is that I’m always working out through the season. Especially the day after a game, I like to work my legs with squats and still lift heavy, and it helps me work through any little things to help you maintain your strength. I don’t take more rest, I continue to work though, in the weight room, running and cardio and everything.

Nutrition-wise, I learned early how big nutrition is when it comes to taking care of your body. It can be overlooked especially with certain guys who are born physical freaks and can eat anything they want and it doesn’t seem to affect them physically. But eventually that catches up to everybody. Diet plays such a huge role when it comes to conditioning and how your body responds to playing such a brutal sport. I like my food pretty basic – chicken, fish and good servings of vegetables. And here’s a surprise — black coffee, all day. I got into it 5 years ago, no milk or sugar or flavored coffee, I like it straight, gas station coffee. Black coffee like my ancestors used to drink when they were working in the coalmines. When I have meetings, I’ll have a big 20 ounce cup of coffee and a big bottle of water with me all the time. It fuels and hydrates me at the same time. I love it.

Now some Fan questions.

Filipe R. on Facebook asked who my NFL hero was — Growing up, I loved watching longtime Miami linebacker Zach Thomas. You’d hear how much he prepared, how smart and tough he was. I got to play against him in my rookie year, and told him after the game how big of a fan I was, how much I respected him. It was awesome. They say meeting your heroes can sometimes be disappointing but Zach exceeded any expectations 100%.

“What other sports do you watch?” asks @CBJFan71_72_24. My brother in law, Jack Jackson, plays NHL hockey for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and now I love hockey because of him. I’m always asking all kind of questions whenever he’s over — I don’t understand all the finer rules of hockey yet. Jack also gave me a pair of his skates so now I’ve got a real pair and once football is done, my daughter wants to go skating, so I will be going out there.

@PackQueen asked, When will you have female guest on #TheHawkCast? I’m always trying, put it out to multiple female guests but at the last minute something came up and they have to bow out. I’m open to anyone. Award-winning sportscaster Pam Oliver was set to come on, but work came up.

Check back in two weeks, and we’ll talk the Holidays and hopefully about my Bengals wrapping up a NFL Playoff position. Who Dey?!

Stay tuned for more installments of the Hawk Talk 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.