By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
The NFL’s annual Broadcast Boot Camp (BBC) has been a launch point for many a media career, but it’s safe to say Andrew Hawkins’ week was like no other in igniting his career trajectory.
“It was a wild week last May, as I received my Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Columbia University on Sunday, then took the train to NFL Films in Mt. Laurel (NJ) to start the BBC, flew up to Foxboro on Tuesday to sign with the Patriots, and then flew back for the final days of the BBC,” said the former Browns & Bengals wide receiver.
“It was all very cool, but the BBC turned out to be my jumping off point as I called games, talked football, wrote stories, and even did analysis with James Brown, and then received positive feedback from media executives and decision-makers,” recalled the University of Toledo product.
But that encouraging reaction was no accident since the 5’7”, 180-pounder stuck in the NFL for six seasons since he knew the value of preparation.
“I went in as prepared as possible since my older brother, (former NFL defensive back) Artrell, had also attended the BBC and told me all about it, and then I hired a personal media coach in advance to make me a little more polished,” said Hawkins, whose brother was a top cornerback/safety in the NFL for 10 years and now is himself a member of the media.
His preparation paid off as he signed a contract with ESPN to perform multiple media duties, which include a show on Snapchat geared to a young demographic, co-hosting “Operation Football” with Field Yates in a RedZone-for-radio-type format on Sunday afternoons, and appearing on SportsCenter and NFL Live, most recently discussing former Cleveland teammate Johnny Manziel opening up about his past, present and future.
Additionally, he told the Patriots in late July he was retiring from football since following OTAs and summer training his body going into training camp had not responded like in the past.
Hawkins made this news public on The Uninterrupted, the Maverick Carter and LeBron James media entity, where he is now the Director of Business Development for their overall marketing/media/entertainment operation that also includes The Robot Co. and Springhill Entertainment.
“I had built a relationship with Maverick by interning for him on the business side and it has been a great fit for me full-time, leading to new opportunities across all their digital and television platforms, including The Uninterrupted’s first-hand, video-based accounts direct from athletes,” Hawkins said.
But that’s not all as he also now co-hosts a regular Podcast called the THOMA-HAWK show with his former Browns teammate, offensive lineman Joe Thomas, which Hawkins said “has really taken off.”
Just like his career in general.
“So far, so good, since ESPN has been great for my media career by spending weekends in Bristol working on such incredible shows, which seems to have a lot of people taking notice,” reflected the Johnstown (PA) native.
People are indeed noticing Hawkins, as evidenced by him appearing on an “Athletes Activism” panel this past weekend at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, where he has spoken previously.
“I appreciate the opportunity to give my perspective on this timely topic since I believe I am well-versed in this subject, and feel fortunate to be able to use this platform as an opportunity to speak out,” he said, where he can draw not only on his brother’s background, but also from his father, Artrell Sr., who played at the University of Pittsburgh and then spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He even brings an international perspective, having played in the CFL where he was a member of two back-to-back Grey Cup championship teams with the Montreal Alouettes, before making his mark in the NFL.
But he no doubt will continue to flourish beyond football, as he plans to follow up his Masters from Columbia and 4.0 GPA by pursuing his PhD in Sports Economics, perhaps as early as this summer.
“It could take a while since I have three children, and travel constantly from my home in Cleveland to LA, New York, and Bristol, but it’s all about timing and the time is now.”
John Ingoldsby is the President and Founder of IIR Sports, Inc., a sports media firm based in Boston. He has covered the NFL throughout his career that began as a newspaper reporter/editor, and his articles have appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine (NFL Player Engagement), London-based Financial Times newspaper (NFL's international strategy), the Philadelphia Daily News (Annual NFC Coaches Breakfast) and the Boston Globe (Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll).