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Andrew Hawkins prepares for life after football at Columbia graduate school

On any given day this offseason, Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is tasked with a juggling act between football, family and the kind of coursework that comes with attending an Ivy League graduate school.

"It's full-go, there always something to do, always something that needs to be done," said Hawkins, who is currently enrolled in his second semester at Columbia University, where he's working toward a master's degree in sports management.

But for Hawkins, who is entering his third season in Cleveland, the late nights, early mornings and litany of daily things to accomplish are worth the while.

Hawkins, who was recently featured in an article on and spoke at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference earlier this month, said he's preparing for life after football. And in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday on Cleveland Browns Daily, he explained why.

"I think the biggest thing is, as athletes, you don't see the other side of sports. It's natural for an athlete — especially a professional — to want to get into the broadcasting side or even the front office side. That's not anything unique," Hawkins said.

"But to see how the industry moves — whether from a financial standpoint, from a media standpoint — there's so many levels to it and that's been the most eye-popping thing since I've been at Columbia is learning that from industry professionals and people that have been in it for decades."

Hawkins — an overlooked 5-foot-7, 180-pound receiver out of Toledo — began his journey into professional football with the Browns as a tryout player in 2008 before re-entering the NFL in 2011 with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Against that backdrop, Hawkins said the prospect of life after football is something he's faced before, adding that gaining information and perspective have made him a more motivated player.

"I'm a guy my entire life I couldn't get opportunities no matter how hard I worked. From the situation that I was in, it was hard for me to get opportunities, and so what that did was created a person that whenever they get an opportunity, they want to make the most of it," he said.

"So as an NFL football player, I understand the opportunity that it presents and I would hate to be done and look back and say I wish I would've or could've done this, or I would've could've did that as opposed to taking advantage of it now and hoping that it pays dividends later on in life."

Hawkins added he hopes his peers consider a similar mindset.

"I think when you're in it, it's hard for guys to see that next phase of life. It seems so far away and not to mention, you've been playing football since you were 8, 9, 10 years old," he said. "It's hard to take a look and see, 'OK, the end is coming' and probably sooner than you wanted it to come.

"And it's something that I hope guys get involved in, whether it's education traditionally through school or education in life — finances, how to save your money, networking to put yourself in position. Whatever it is, I think it's important for guys to take a look at that and be ready for it.​"

To be sure, Hawkins -- who led the Browns with 824 yards receiving in 2014 -- said he's trying to master the art of balancing the roles between football player, student, husband and father.

"I can't sacrifice working out for school because I still very much want to be the best Cleveland Brown that I can be. But also in school, you don't want to sacrifice anything for school because you want to put your best foot forward," he said.

"Same goes for family, that's always No. 1 to me. I can't sacrifice time with them or playing catch with my son because I want to catch up on sleep. That's been the most difficult thing through this process but my mindset is it's only going to be for a little bit."

He aded, "Anything worth having, it's going to be hard work."

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