Andrew Hawkins has never stopped working on himself.
The former Cleveland Browns wide receiver also never wants to be caught off guard unprepared when presented with an opportunity. Hawkins now holds a number of positions, including director of business development at Uninterrupted and host of “SportsCenter” on SnapChat for ESPN.
His business life after his playing career stems from achieving the goal of playing one game — yes, one game — in the National Football League.
“I played the one game and I was left with, ‘What now?’” Hawkins said. “After that first game, I was nervous it’d end at any moment, so I immediately shifted focus to what’s next.”
Hawkins ended up playing 74 games in the NFL, from 2011 to 2016, with the Bengals and Browns. Despite the lengthy career, he was concerned he’d end up with a five-year limbo period after he stopped playing.
With that concern, he has two major life fears: getting an opportunity and being unprepared, and not maximizing an opportunity and going backward in life.
While Hawkins was with Cleveland, he obtained his master’s degree in Sports Management from Columbia University. Splitting time between training and school, Hawkins traveled a lot and worked hard to finish the degree. He interned for Maverick Carter, longtime business manager of LeBron James and partner in Uninterrupted, which led to his realization being an on-air talent could be a positive career path.
Also while still in the league, he realized how important building his brand off the field was to his post-playing life. Fans were there for the wide receiver, but if he didn’t build his off-the-field self, they’d be gone when he was finished playing.
Along with hosting “SportsCenter” on Snapchat, he also hosts a podcast with former Browns teammate Joe Thomas — essentially just two friends chatting as they used to in the locker room.
“It’s incredible, we’re in an age of access,” Hawkins said. “The way people consume sports now, it doesn’t take time. I never would have imagined it, but here I am and I really see the opportunity in it.”
Tackling a media path wasn’t obvious before his work with Carter, but now he’s happy in that role. Still, he thinks he’ll end up in a front office someday. His goal then will be to win a Super Bowl.
“I don’t want my focus to be just cashing a check; I want to stay by my conviction,” he said. “If I can build a foundation elsewhere, it gives me more leverage. A lot of guys in the football industry make decisions based on what someone else wants to hear.”
He advises current NFL players — and other professionals in sports — who appreciate the opportunity and learn to maximize time by preparing for future opportunities.
Working on a future self is key, as those who aren’t good will be found out eventually, Hawkins said. Networking can only do so much, he says, but it’s also very important. He suggests a tactic he uses regularly: reaching out to people you admire and who are good at their jobs.
Hawkins’ life hasn’t slowed down at all since finishing his NFL career, and he now travels from his home in Los Angeles to Connecticut and New York City, where he spends his time between Sunday and Tuesday. Back in California, he’s a husband and father, which he gives his all. He says the constant travel isn’t fun, but he was used to the lifestyle while playing and knows it can all pay off in the long run.
“I’m paying my dues and showing the work ethic I have,” Hawkins said. “The travel is tough, but the fact of life is you have to do what you have to do. Time goes on and I won’t have to travel as much, because as you show ability, worth, and talent, you get more leverage.
“It’s all part of the process.”