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Andrew Hawkins announces retirement, thanks Browns fans for 'unwavering support'

Andrew Hawkins is calling it a career.

The former Browns wide receiver announced his retirement Tuesday from the NFL, ending a fairytale journey that began in 2008 as a tryout player with the team.

Hawkins, who cited feeling physically not ready for training camp, played three seasons in Cleveland before he was released in February. He signed with the New England Patriots in May.

Hawkins caught 123 passes for 1,424 yards and five touchdowns and was the team's leading receiver in 2014, posting career numbers in receptions (63) and receiving yards (824). He was named captain in 2016 and helped steady one of the league's youngest teams amid a 1-15 season. 

Hawkins thanked Browns fans and the city of Cleveland for their "unwavering support" in a letter.

"My time as a Brown was some of the best of my life and I have never experienced such passion from fans in my life," Hawkins wrote. "I couldn't wrap my mind around the unwavering support Cleveland fans showed us through the ups and downs, but I knew it was special to be a part of."

Hawkins, a former standout at Toledo, began his NFL career with the Browns as a tryout player at the team's 2008 rookie minicamp.

"I loaded up my Chevrolet Impala, and made the roughly two hour drive from the University of Toledo to Berea, in hopes of not returning anytime soon," Hawkins wrote. "Unfortunately, I was back on the Toledo campus within three days."

Hawkins played for the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes from 2009-10 and held several unusual jobs after college, including working at a wind turbine factory, as a caddy at a country club and NFL personnel intern.

Hawkins signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and joined the Browns in 2014. In six years, he totaled 209 catches for 2,419 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I am proud to be a part of the Cleveland community," Hawkins wrote, "and in my short time, I hope my small contributions have left it in a better place than when I arrived."

Hawkins earned his master's degree from Columbia earlier this summer. 

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