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Former Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins retires from NFL

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The former Bengals and Browns receiver is calling it a career in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Andrew Hawkins, known by Cincinnati Bengals fans as Baby Hawk, has announced his retirement from the NFL.

Hawkins, who signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, spent 2011 to 2013 with the Bengals before going on to spend the last three years with the Browns.

Hawkins finishes his six year NFL career with 209 receptions for 2,419 yards and 9 touchdowns.

“I just got off the phone with the New England Patriots and coach Belichick and I just had to inform them of my decision to retire,” Hawkins said on Tuesday, via the Uninterrupted. “After OTAs this summer, my body just didn’t respond and didn’t feel the way it should going into camp.”

Hawkins also penned a letter to Bengals fans, which was published today in the Cincinnati Enquirer, thanking the fans and team.

Dear Cincinnati,

Much like every other Cincinnati Bengals fan, I can remember praying and hoping for the days of Bengals’ playoff games. As a middle schooler with an older brother who started at cornerback for the team, I can remember giving myself pep talks throughout the week. I would urge myself to be mindful of my behavior at home and in school in hopes that God would reward our team on enough Sundays to see that Hawkins (Artrell) jersey dawn the field of a Bengals playoffs game. As the years went by and my hope wavered, I came to what I thought was the realization that my prayer went unanswered. Up until Saturday Jan 7, 2012, I had completely forgotten about the entire notion. On that day the Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Houston to take on the Texans in the first round of the NFL playoffs and I remember stepping on the field, as tears streamed down my face, realizing that God decided way back then that it would be me wearing the Hawkins jersey that graced a Bengals’ playoff game.

Today, my football career comes to an end. Although my name may be but a blip in the History of WhoDey, I am still in awe that my dream came true. Special thank you to Mike and Nancy Brown who have always treated my family as their own. Thank you to Katie and Troy Blackburn, Paul Brown, Duke Tobin and Marvin Lewis for believing in me from the start and giving this little Bengals fan the opportunity to represent his childhood team. I count it as an incredible honor to be a football descendant of the Godfather of football himself, Mr. Paul Brown. Thank you to my coaches and teammates who I was blessed to battle alongside and share some incredible times and memories (Aj Green and Andy Dalton once called me the best basketball player they’d ever witnessed.)

Lastly, I want to personally thank the Cincinnati media members and ALL of the Cincinnati Bengals fans for treating me like a NATIve son of the city and supporting me through thick and thin. Cincinnati will forever be home and I will be a Bengal until the day I’m gone. THANK YOU CINCINNATI, the pleasure was all mine.

– Baby Hawk

Hawkins had a difficult and unconventional path to the NFL, which started with a contract in the Canadian Football League. He graduated from University of Toledo in 2008 and went undrafted. He went on to play for the Montreal Alouettes from 2009-2010 before making it into the big leagues with a chance from the Bengals in 2011.

He had a great career in Cincinnati, defying all odds to make it into the NFL. His brother, Artrell Hawkins also played in the NFL for the Bengals from 1998-2003 and continued on in the NFL though 2008.

You can read more about Hawkins’ career and path to the NFL here and part two to that story here.

Congratulations to Baby Hawk, who graduated with a Master’s in Sports Management from Columbia University this year, as he moves on to the next chapter in his journey.

Leave your favorite Baby Hawk memory below!