Alex Hawkins found the Edisto River near Denmark to his liking in retirement.

The University of South Carolina football legend, who starred also in the NFL, liked to get exercise climbing up the bluff from the river to his house.

Hawkins and wife Charlie moved to the area when they tired of the traffic in Atlanta and sought a slower style of living.

"We love it," Hawkins told The Times and Democrat in 2005. "We had five different Realtors and looked at 30 or 40 places. We told them we wanted just a little land without a house on it and ended up with a 32-year-old house and 65 acres."

More recently, Hawkins had been in assisted living in Columbia. At age 80, he died on Tuesday.

As a Gamecock, Hawkins was the 1958 Atlantic Coast Conference football player of the year. He played offense and defense and kicked extra points. He led USC in passing (1957) and receiving (1956), scoring (1956-58), punt returns (1957-58) and interceptions (1956).

He was a third-team All-America selection in 1958. He finished with 1,760 yards combined rushing and receiving in his career and also completed 61 percent of his passes for 410 yards. He was elected in the USC Hall of Fame in 1970.

During the 2005 interview with former T&D Sports Editor Brian Linder, Hawkins showed the fun-loving spirit for which he was known. He said he retired two years earlier after never working. His record: "Two arrests, no convictions."

Actually Hawkins played 10 years for the Baltimore Colts. He also played for the Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi, and one year for the Atlanta Falcons.

He worked in motion pictures and television (calling the 1977 NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys), in the garbage business and for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And he was the author of two humorous autobiographical books, one titled “My Story (And I’m Sticking to It)” in 1990. Country musician Collin Raye later turned the title into a hit song and Hawkins earned royalties from it and was listed as one of the song’s writers.

Hawkins and his wife also compiled two cookbooks, "Cookin' with Cocky” and “Cookin’ with Cocky II.”

Speaking to the Orangeburg Morning Rotary Club in 2005, Hawkins looked back 50 years to when he was playing ball in a high school in West Virginia, where he was born. The average salary was $11,000; average rent was $87; postage stamps were 3 cents apiece.

As a senior, he was recruited by 17 colleges to play basketball, more than that to play football and by a pro baseball team. He was voted "Most Popular" and was going steady with the head majorette and the head cheerleader at the same time.

"In other words, I was hot," he said.

At that time, the NCAA rules that colleges must obey now were not in place. When he went to play for head football coach Rex Enright at USC, he said he was offered $1,500 a semester, new clothes twice a year, four trips home during the school year and a new car in his second year. And they made good on those promises, he said.

The next year, Hawkins tells, Coach and later Sen. Warren Giese replaced Enright and called a team meeting.

"I've been told that there are 51 players being paid something extra to play on this team," he said. "That ends today. Anyone who doesn't like it can tell me three colleges where he would rather play, and I'll contact them for you."

Hawkins said he gave Giese some names but Giese never made the contacts. The team went 7-3 that year. Hawkins never played a losing season there, and he was content to stay.

When he was drafted to play professional football, Hawkins was the 13th person picked, and there were only 12 teams at that time. He was the second highest-paid player for Green Bay. Paul Hornung was making $15,000, he said, and Hawkins was making $11,000 and got a $1,000 advance.

Hawkins played for the Green Bay Packers during the first year that Vince Lombardi began his great reign as head coach.

"They always say, 'No one ever talked back to Vince Lombardi,' " Hawkins said. "But I once screamed at him. It was after a practice during which he had screamed at me. I asked to speak to him in the dressing room, and I screamed, 'Don't ever scream at me anymore! I'm a very sensitive guy!’ and then I grabbed him and said, 'So don't scream at me!'

"The next day, I was on my way to Baltimore to play for Weeb Eubank's team," he said. "There I finally got the championship I deserved."

Hawkins got the nickname "Captain Who" during his years with the Colts. When the coach insisted that he be a captain along with offensive captain Johnny Unitas and defensive captain Gino Marchetti, Hawkins finally agreed. But when the referee came to speak with the captains, he addressed Unitas and Marchetti by name and then turned to Hawkins and said, "Captain who?"

Hawkins finished his pro career with 1,751 yards receiving, 787 yards rushing and 22 total touchdowns.

USC announced it will honor Hawkins with a moment of silence prior to Saturday night’s football game with Kentucky.


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