Joe Hawley was a surprise cut after the Atlanta Falcons claimed C Gino Gradkowski from the Denver Broncos. Based on the structure of his contract, his slow recovery from his 2014 season-ending injury, and questionable fit in the new offensive blocking scheme, Hawley was let go.
The beard is gone, but we can look back on the wonderful memories brought to us by the man who inspired the nickname Joe Brawley. Hawley had long been a fan favorite thanks to his fiery play and constant physical altercations on the field.
Hawley was one of the few Thomas Dimitroff mid-round selections that earned both a starting spot and a contract extension. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and was a rare selection out of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In 2011, Hawley filled in at center and right guard, surprisingly playing most of the offensive snaps that season. He played sparingly in 2012, but filled in for Peter Konz in 2013, where he was one of the few players who looked like they came to play. Thanks to injuries and incompetence, Hawley was arguably the best offensive lineman that season. 2014 did not go as planned, and Hawley tore his ACL at the end of September.
Hawley finished his Falcons career with 23 starts, 57 games played, and countless swings at opposing linemen.
Hawley did everything the right way. He worked his way ahead of higher draft picks, consistently showed lots of effort, was one of few players to earn his starts, and had the most magnificent beard.
We wish Hawley the best on his return to full health and once again fighting in the NFL.