The boyhood battle that almost happened

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
12:15
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It would've been a great story. If the New York Jets had reached Super Bowl XLV to face the Green Bay Packers, it would've featured a battle of the boyhood friends, Jets C Nick Mangold and Packers ILB A.J. Hawk.

They grew up together in Centerville, Ohio, played on the same grade-school team, lived together for four years at Ohio State and participated in each other's weddings. Even their families are close.

A couple of days ago, Hawk said he and Mangold talked about what might have been. Hawk said he was rooting for the Jets to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

"He's definitely disappointed they didn't get here," Hawk said Tuesday on media day. "They're knocking on the door, they're getting close ... It would've been fun to play against him and the whole team. Yeah, I was rooting for them."

It would've been a huge story in Centerville, which may have been a town divided -- Hawk vs. Mangold, Packers vs. Jets. What about the town's loyalties?

"I guess it depends on which family you were talking to," Hawk said.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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