Courtney Hawkins exclusive interview on Super Bowl XLV

February 5, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers wide reciever Courtney Hawkins makes reception picking up 13 yards in the 3rd quarter as Tennessee Oiliers linebacker Eddie Robinson hangs on. (PG Photo by Peter Diana)

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

Courtney Hawkins knows a thing or two about playing in the NFL.

From 1997-2000, the Beecher high school graduate played wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers where he hauled in 160 receptions for 1, 829 yards and averaged 11.4 yards per catch. He also scored five touchdowns.

In fact, Hawkins still holds the franchise record for most receptions in a single game. In week nine of the 1998 season, he amassed 14 receptions for 147 yards against the Tennessee Oilers breaking the previous record set by Steelers legend, J.R. Wilburn by two catches.

This Sunday, the Steelers will take on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in pursuit of their franchise’s seventh championship. The former Steeler won’t be making the trip to Cowboys Stadium but he did offer his thoughts on what he think will happen as well as what it means to be a Steeler.

Eric Woodyard: Can you offer your thoughts on the Super Bowl itself?

Courtney HawkinsIt’s one of the biggest stages of any sport. It’s a great honor for those guys, they’ve earned their right to play in it. I’ve never played in it but it’s one heck of a stage.

EW: You’ve played for the Pittsburgh Steelers which is a winning franchise, how was the culture there when you played with them?

CHIt’s Steeler nation man. There’s other sports there, they got a hockey team and they play basketball teams there in colleges and what not, but it’s about the Steelers in Pittsburgh man. It’s a absolutely crazy football town, they love the Steelers and they’re behind them 110 percent. It was one of the funnest places to play and the funnest places to live because if you’re a Steeler you’ve got the heart of the town. There’s never a restaurant that’s booked, there’s always a table available for a Steeler.

EW: Do you have any special memories from playing there or one that just sticks out to you?

CH: I don’t know, I had a lot of great memories there. Probably the city itself. I mean I keep going back to it but probably just the fans of Pittsburgh. You know? Unbelievable. But it was like that everywhere we went. There’s Steelers fans in California. We would go to stadiums in California and it would seem like we were at home it would be so much black and gold and it was like that everywhere we went.

EW: Can you talk about the game that you had 14 receptions against the Tennessee Oilers and broke J.R. Wilburn‘s Steelers record for the most receptions in a single game?

CHIndividually it was a heck of a game. You know, myself and Kordell (Stewart) were on the same page and we hooked up left and right. It’s one of those games that as a wide out you dream of. Being a wide out you want the ball, I wanted the ball and he fed it to me that game and unfortunately we ended up losing in the last stages of a game but to break any record on a NFL team is something special. The games have been going on for a long time and it’s been a lot of great players. I was happy from that standpoint of breaking a record but still ticked off about the fact of losing the game.

EW: How do you like the current receivers? You got the opportunity to play with Hines Ward who was drafted in 1998 but how do you feel about them as a whole?

CHThey got some guys making some plays man. They got the young guy from Central Michigan (Antonio Brown) who caught the past last week. Hines is still playing at a high level. They got the guy Mike Wallace who they say is one of the fastest guys in the league and number one they got a heck of a trigger man back there. They got a great quarterback. When you got a good quarterback at that level you got a chance to win and they’re proving it.

EW: What’s your predictions for the game? Who are you rolling with?

CHAw man come on man! (laughs) That’s a easy one for me man. I pick the Steelers hands down! I think it’s gonna be a good game. I don’t think it will be a blowout or anything like that but I think defense in this case will win the championship. There’s is a little bit better than Green Bay, just a little bit.

EW: Do you keep in touch with any of the  current players?

CHYou know I haven’t talked to those guys in a while. I haven’t talked to Hines. It’s been a minute and actually there’s only like two players on the team that were there when I played. This will be the start of my eleventh year from when I retired so there’s been a lot of turnover since then.

EW: How much do you think the NFL has changed since then?

CHThe game has changed a lot. All the little tic tac rules they got now, illegal contact downfield on the receivers. The game was a lot more physical and I think now you can see all the fines that are happening in the NFL. Those were just regular hits when I played. It’s kind of what the game was about but I think they’re taking some of the aggressiveness out of the game and trying to protect the players more with all of the concussions that have went on so from that standpoint it’s a good thing but football is football. We turn the TV. on on Sundays and Saturdays to basically watch somebody get knocked out. They’ve kind of taken that out of the game. It’s still a great game no question about it, but it seems like the NFL is more geared towards offense right now and it seems like it’s changed to make it easier to score points which makes it tough on the defense. It’s still the greatest game in the world no matter what they do to it.

EW: Are there still Sundays that you wish you were out there playing?

CHI miss it on Sundays sometimes. There’s nothing I can do or anybody can do to substitute the feeling that you get on Sunday. You know, running out of the tunnel to when you’re at home to everybody cheering and you cant even hear yourself think to being on the road and guys in the stands talking about your momma and everybody booing you. It’s nothing like it but I don’t miss how I felt on Monday mornings though.

EW: Is it anything else you wanna add about the Super Bowl or about your time in Pittsburgh?

CHPro ball was a great ride, it really was. It was a great nine years. I got some great memories, got some great friends, played in a great city probably one of the best football cities in the United States. Playing in Pittsburgh, I was very fortunate to get that opportunity. I will always be a Steelers’ fan and that’s about it.


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