Hawk Talk: Blessings & Football

Hawk Talk: Blessings & Football
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) runs in pursuit during a week 10 NFL football game against the Houston Texans on Monday, November 16, 2015 in Cincinnati. The Texans defeated the Bengals 10-6. (Scott Boehm via AP)

Hey, what’s up people, how are you?

This week I’m going to talk about blessings and Thanksgiving traditions.

But first — “Je t’aime Paris!” My wife and I have traveled to the beautiful city of Paris, and the families of the victims of last week’s tragedy are definitely in our thoughts and prayers. You just have to be thankful for what we have and don’t take life for granted because it can change in the snap of a finger.

I’m happy that both my football teams are playing well. Ohio State are on fire, undefeated this season and having won 23 consecutive games (30 straight in the Big Ten Conference). But they’ve got their biggest test coming up playing Michigan State this Saturday (November 21) and Michigan next Saturday (November 28). I don’t get too worried about the college playoffs rankings, as long as the Buckeyes are in the top four, that’s what’s important. If they win out during the regular season, they’ll be in the playoffs again.

With only 16 regular season NFL games, odds are you’re going to lose a game, so how you respond is what separates average from great teams. We’ll learn from our mistakes and put closure on the loss on Monday Night (to the Texans), put it behind us, and move on as we’ve got another huge game in Arizona on Sunday night.

Back to home, fan @jjfight asked what’s it like to be back in Ohio. It feels great! We decided a long time ago that Columbus was going to be our fulltime home even when I was in Green Bay. But, this is the first time we’re spending Thanksgiving in Ohio in a long time because I was often playing on the Thursday with the Packers.

I’ll be driving to Columbus after Bengals’ practice, and if any teammates don’t have a place to go, we’ll invite them to our place. We could have up to 25 people or more visiting. My wife Laura loves to entertain and cook, making all sorts of traditional dishes — things her family taught her. Personally, I’m not into all the side dishes, I just love turkey and maybe a little sweet potato. Our guests will eat everything else she makes. But I’ll try to finish her turkey — she usually cooks two full birds with extra boneless breasts — and there’ll be nothing left over after our dogs get some.

She also makes a lot of desserts, a great pumpkin pie and all sorts of cookies, like gingerbread with icing. She loves being creative — she’s been cooking since she was in high school, going to the library to get recipes to try out. But I’m not a big dessert guy, staying off the sweets, so our guests and the kids eat it all.

With my big family growing up, we’d hold hands and say a little prayer about what we’re thankful for. It used to give me anxiety when I was really young — What am I supposed to say? We’ll recreate that in our house for sure. But my kids Lennon and Hendrix are not shy, they’ll want to butt in and say their thing.

We’ll have the NFL games on in the background, with the Bears at the Packers in the late game. I’m usually chasing my kids around and they’ll be dancing and singing, oh yeah. And when they’ve gone to bed, the adults will probably play some form of charade, which is always fun.

By the way, I usually play some music for the kids before they go to bed. The other night, I introduced them to AC/DC on YouTube and they were copying their crazy moves. My son was hopping on one leg trying to do guitarist Angus. I didn’t think they’d take to AC/DC as much, but they loved it.

Speaking of family, another fan @SaltsmanBruce asked if I had any ancestors from Vinton County, Ohio. I don’t think so. But we’ve got family all over the state, and sometimes someone else has the surname Hawk and they’ll ask if we’re related. Who knows, we may be distant cousins.

To wrap up, I’ve got a new Hawkcast with ex-Packer running back Ryan Grant, who played with me on our Super Bowl winning team, a great guy and we had a really interesting talk, so check it out. And check back in two weeks to talk about Christmas — we’ve already got Holiday decorations, lights and stockings up early, although there’s no tree yet. We like to maximize the time with the whole Christmas atmosphere, and the kids are totally excited. And Who Dey?!

Stay tuned for more installments of this Ticketmaster Insider column 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 entire 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.