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Meet the real underdog from “Fourth and Long”

A. Hawkins

Cowboys receiver and reality show winner Jesse Holley made national news when he helped Dallas beat San Francisco early in the year.

Holley’s story was one of perseverance. He made it through the football wilderness, winning Michael Irvin’s “Fourth and Long” reality show before eventually making an impact in Dallas.

An even better story has quietly played out in Cincinnati. The runner up on the same show, receiver Andrew Hawkins, has started to emerge with the Bengals.

Hawkins’ story is even more improbable than Holley’s. Hawkins is a 5'7, 175-pound wide receiver. Geoff of Hobson of notes that three years ago Hawkins was sleeping on someone’s couch, caddying, and helping to coach Toledo’s receivers. (Hawkins went to college there.)

The former Montreal Alouette is technically a rookie because he’s never been in the NFL before. The Rams brought him to camp this year, cut him, and the Bengals claimed him on waivers. The Saints also put in a claim.

Hawkins caught five passes for 56 yards last week. (Holley has four grabs this year; he’s primarily a special teamer.) Hawkins was mostly matched up against Troy Polamalu, and the veteran safety couldn’t handle Hawkins’ quickness.

“It was something we prepared for all week, and we gave [Pittsburgh] a new look that they probably weren’t prepared for,” Hawkins said.

With his CFL background, Hawkins seems to understand coordinator Jay Gruden’s short passing concepts better than some of the other Bengals wideouts.

As one of the few people in America that watched Fourth and Long, I can safely say that Hawkins was the star of the show. He outplayed Holley, but Irvin and the other judges just couldn’t get on board with a 5'7 wideout.

Holley provided a great story in September, but Hawkins is the real long shot.

Even Irvin overlooked him.