ESPN Films’ 10-part documentary “The Last Dance” has shone a spotlight on Michael Jordan and the cast of characters from the 1990s Chicago Bulls. On social media, Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins of NFL Network is taking that one step further.
The former NFL player turned sketch comic was already turning heads with his viral videos parodying life in pro football. But Hawkins exploded to another level with his impersonation of Dennis Rodman in Episode 3 of “The Last Dance.”
Hawkins’s Rodman tweet has drawn 1.5 million views and counting. Everyone from LeBron James and ESPN’s Randy Moss to rapper Wale and comedian Gary Owen talked up the sketch on Twitter.
On May 11, he struck again with more quarantine content lampooning everyone from Jordan and Magic Johnson to Isiah Thomas and Larry Bird. Hawkins enlisted other rising talents such as impressionist Joey Mulinaro of Barstool Sports to pull off his parody of Episodes 5-6.
Under current pandemic quarantine rules, Hawkins is mostly a one-man-band. He writes his sketches himself, shoots them in his garage, does the editing. He put together the Rodman sketch, start to finish, in a few hours. The downtime of the pandemic has enabled him to tap into his “creative side,” said Hawkins.
“At a time when I think people need to laugh, I was just like, ‘Hey, I’m going to commit to spending the time to do funny stuff.’ And you know, so far, the reception has been awesome,” he said.
The former wide receiver played six seasons in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals before joining ESPN and then heading to NFL Network in a multi-platform role in 2019.
He appears on shows such as “Good Morning Football” and “NFL Total Access,” while co-hosting Uninterrupted’s “ThomaHawk” podcast with former Browns teammate Joe Thomas. Hawkins also serves as director of business development and branding for James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted athlete empowerment brand.
Since finding his niche in sketch comedy, the Emmy Award-winning producer has been on a roll. He won a Shorty Award for his skit on “The Different Types of NFL Players Arriving To the Stadium.”
Hawkins also scored with a new video mocking ESPN’s tragic history of NFL Draft prospects. But given the popularity of “Last Dance,” the Rodman parody put him over the top. Now he’s getting inundated with calls by everybody from directors, producers, and talent agents to TV networks, studios, and production companies.
The NFL Network, according to Hawkins, has been great about letting him expand beyond pro football to cultural events like “The Last Dance.” Every Sunday night, when the docu-series comes on, “it feels like a watch party that involves millions of people,” he said.
The father of three kids with wife Markisha also has a master’s degree in sports management from Columbia Business School.
Hawkins ultimately wants to move into acting and have a sketch comedy TV show, something he hopes is made possible by the viral videos he is creating during the quarantine.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, which is trying to create cool content and put my creativity on display. I hope it will work out in the end,” he said.
And, yes, Hawkins has some sketch ideas for “Last Dance” before the series concludes on May 17. But he doesn’t want to spoil the surprise: “I like to keep people on their toes. I want to make sure people don’t know what to expect from me. Once you start giving them a shtick, it runs stale.”