Hawthorne will be the fourth Rattlers player to be placed in the Ring
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The six-time world champion Arizona Rattlers are proud to announce that Anttaj Hawthorne will be the fourth player in the history of the organization to be placed in the Arizona Rattlers Ring of Honor. Hawthorne will join other Rattlers legends Sherdrick Bonner, Hunkie Cooper, and Randy Gatewood.
“I am thrilled to honor Anttaj as one of our all-time greats,” said Team Owner Ron Shurts. “He is without a doubt one of the best defensive linemen that ever played our game. Anttaj was the anchor of our defense for a better part of a decade; a decade that saw three championships. He has been incredibly loyal to the Rattler family and will continue to be a special part of our community, both on and off the field.”
“We were able to sign him my first year as head coach,” said General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy. “He was the most dominant player at his position. He made all the players around him better because of his ability to collapse the pocket. As good as he was as a player, he was an even better human being.”
The induction ceremony will take place at halftime during the game against the Nebraska Danger on Sunday, May 27th. The game starts at 3:05 p.m. PDT and will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“Anttaj had his opportunities to test the free market, but instead, he stayed with us for his entire career, and stayed loyal to the program, which is something you don’t see any more in this day and age,” added Guy. “Anttaj and I have developed a friendship outside of work and I am very happy for him and his family. I am looking forward to honoring him on his special day.”
Hawthorne spent eight seasons with the Arizona Rattlers. During his career, he became the all-time sack leader for the Rattlers at the time, recording 26.5 sacks. He also amassed 118.5 tackles, had 17 pass breakups, forced seven fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, and eight blocked kicks. He was also named to the first team All-Arena team in 2011. Hawthorne appeared in five Arena Bowls and won three, ArenaBowl XXV in 2012, ArenaBowl XXVI in 2013, and ArenaBowl XXVII in 2014. No other ring inductee has won as many championships as Hawthorne.
“We won championships playing defense in a game where all the rules favor the offense. When building a championship defense, you start with your middle pieces, (nose guard) and build out to the perimeter,” Guy continued. “He was the single most important piece that we needed to be successful. Anttaj was everything you were looking for at his position because he can bull rush, two-gap, or blow right by you and was plain nasty, which is how he got the name ‘Big Nasty’.”
Hawthorne was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 6th round (175th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft. He registered 13 solo tackles and three assists in eight games during the 2006 NFL season before being allocated to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. In his first year in Frankfurt, he tallied 28 regular season tackles and two sacks on a top ranked rushing defense that allowed only 52 yards per game. He won his first world title while with Frankfurt.
Hawthorne was a four-year starter (2001-2004) on the defensive line at the University of Wisconsin. He earned third team All-American honors his senior year and was named All-Big Ten Conference three times, including a first team selection as a junior, and a consensus selection as a senior. He was the recipient of the team’s Jay Seiler Coaches Appreciation Award and named team captain his senior year. He finished his career with 201 tackles, 42 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles, four pass deflections and an interception. His 42 tackles for a loss places him seventh on the school’s all-time list.
The Hamden, Connecticut native earned All-State three times, was named USA Today, ESPN and Super Preps first team All-American and earned Prep Stars Dream Team accolades his senior year at Hamden High School. That same year he competed in the National High School All-Star game and was rated the ninth-best overall player and second ranked defensive player in the country by Tom Lemmings Prep Football Report.
For more information, head to azrattlers.com.
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About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers were founded in 1992 and are proud members and current champions of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Rattlers spent 24 seasons in the Arena Football League (AFL), and in that time made ten appearances in the ArenaBowl, winning in 2014, 2013, 2012, 1997 and 1994. They also won the United Bowl in 2017. For tickets, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit www.azrattlers.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8th, 2018
Contact: Peter Garbow, (989) 395-3789, firstname.lastname@example.org
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