Hodkiewicz living the dream
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Packers.com writer Weston Hodkiewicz had a fairly normal beginning when it comes to writing, but the 2006 Bay Port High School graduate quickly moved up the ranks to where he is today – one of Green Bay Packers main writers.
“Sometimes, I do have to just pinch myself to see if it’s real,” said Hodkiewicz, who has been with the Packers organization since April 2016. “A lot of people might take it for granted driving down Lombardi Avenue every day, but I certainly don’t. No matter what walk of life you are in, you don’t want to wake up in the morning and dread what your day is going to be like. I thank God every day for the opportunities he has given me. To work at a place that is such a bucket-list item for so many people is the best thing I could ever imagine. Sometimes, I’ll just walk out into the stadium bowl and appreciate the history. People tell me I have the best job in the world, and I think I do.”
Hodkiewicz, also a 2010 UW-Green Bay graduate, began his writing career by covering high school sports, the Green Bay Gamblers, St. Norbert College and the Packers starting in 2006 at the Press Gazette.
Although meeting the players and becoming personal friends with many of them is great, it’s not what Hodkiewicz loves the most.
“I just love telling stories,” he said. “That’s why I got into this. I used to love working the draft and writing about breaking news, but ultimately my favorite thing is to tell fans a story about a player. It’s changed over the years – now two seconds after some important breaking news comes out, everyone knows about it.”
A few stories stick out in Hodkiewicz’s mind.
The first is one he did on Mason Crosby and his brother Rees and sister-in-law Brittany titled “Fighting with kicks and punches.”
It documents what the three went through as Brittany was fighting stage 3-C ovarian cancer.
Brittany’s fight with cancer weighed heavily on Crosby’s mind when he kicked the game-winning field goal against the Dallas Cowboys in a Jan. 15, 2017, playoff game in Arlington, Texas.
Crosby’s kick propelled the Packers to a 34-31 victory, sending the team to the NFC Championship game the next weekend.
Rees, Brittany and her parents were watching from their house in Georgetown, Texas, unable to attend the game because Brittany was only nine days removed from being in the hospital.
“Those are the ones – where you get to the core of people – that I love and get a rush from – telling a story that most people don’t know about,” said Hodkiewicz. “You get to know the player behind the facemask. When I can find a story that humanizes a player, that’s where I get my biggest thrill. There are so many people covering the NFL right now, and many of the stories get rehashed and retold.”
He also did a story on Johnathan Franklin who had to retire prematurely from the Packers with a neck injury.
“That was a tough one because I had to talk to Johnathan’s agent and also his good friend Datone Jones,” he said. “Those two guys grew up together, went to college together, played video games together and now they couldn’t play football together anymore.”
Hodkiewicz said he’s personal friends with many of the guys, but he tries to walk a fine line of being professional and not going overboard.
Hodkiewicz singles out former players Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Andy Mulumba and Jayrone Elliott as being good friends.
“I’m probably closer friends with people in the front office, but there are definitely lots of players I keep in close contact with, even after they have left the team,” he said.
Hodkiewicz has no plans to step aside from his dream job and will continue to do his part in telling the stories that he loves to share.
“As long as my badge keeps letting me in the building, I’ll be here,” he said. “I missed quite a few things with my wife (Caitlin) when I was at the Press Gazette. I was pretty much on the clock 24/7 when news would break. Working for the Packers, I still work a lot, but when I’m packing up my stuff to go home at night, I’m free of it. I know what I have to accomplish, but I have a lot more peace of mind now. I’m happy not to wake up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. worrying about checking Twitter to see if anything happened. My hair hasn’t been graying at the same pace it was before, and my overall well-being has improved over the last few years. I couldn’t be happier.”