Why A.J. Hawk is one of Dayton’s most unique athletes ever

A.J. Hawk soared as a linebacker at Centerville High School, then at Ohio State and through 11 years in the NFL.

Today, he will be flying much higher — and moving much, much faster. 

Hawk, 33, who has a keen interest in aviation and has trained to become a pilot, will put on a flight suit this afternoon and strap into the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon to promote the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

» RELATED: A.J. Hawk to soar with Thunderbirds at Dayton Air Show

» RELATED: Insider’s guide to Dayton Air Show: 7 things to know 

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform the Diamond Pass and Review during their performance at the Wings of Freedom Open House & Air Show, Altus AFB, OK, September 13, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Stan Parker)
Photo: MSgt Stan Parker

It won’t be Hawk’s first time up with an elite aerobatic team. In 2014, he flew with the Navy’s Blue Angels.

“I was dying,” Hawk told ESPNWisconsin.com at the time.

Hawk said he used an airsickness bag “two-plus” times during the 50-minute flight.

» PHOTOS: A.J. Hawk career retrospective

Here are some other things that make Hawk unique: 

Early glory, including a national title: Hawk, who was born in Kettering, played high school football at Centerville before becoming a two-time All-American at Ohio State, where he was part of the 2002 national championship team and won two Big Ten titles.

» RELATED: New football coach Brent Ullery: ‘Centerville is a very special place’ 

Top pick, Super Bowl ring: Hawk was a first-round draft pick by the Green Bay in 2006. He became the franchise’s all-time leading tackler and was on the Packers’ 2011 Super Bowl championship team.

» RELATED: Centerville's Hawk reaches football pinnacle with Packers 

Peace with retirement: He spent the 2015 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, played one 2016 game with the Atlanta Falcons and announced his retirement from professional football earlier this year.

» RELATED: NFL career over for A.J. Hawk, former Centerville/Ohio State star 

Podcaster: Hawk hosts a podcast called The HawkCast, now with more than 100 episodes, including interviews with the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden and legendary NBC sports broadcaster Bob Costas. He also said he would like to spend more time in the broadcast booth calling games in the future.

» PODCAST: The HawkCast 

Wedding officiant: Hawk was certified to officiate weddings through an online ministry. He was the officiant at a wedding for a former Packers teammate and wed former Ohio State teammate Rory Nicol and the former Amy Halpin, an aide to Head Football Coach Urban Meyer, according to ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus.

"As I started doing the research you realize you can't mess this up," Hawk told the station.    

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