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Ralph Hawkins; Pro Football Assistant Coach

By Louie Estrada
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 13, 2004; Page B07

Ralph W. Hawkins, 69, a former football and basketball star at St. John's High School in Washington who spent 35 years in the National Football League as an assistant coach or scout, died Sept. 9 at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md. He had Pick's disease, a neurological disorder that causes dementia.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Hawkins worked for nine NFL organizations, including the Washington Redskins, for whom he was a secondary coach under coach George Allen from 1972 to 1977.

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Mr. Hawkins gained a reputation as a highly respected assistant coach, tutoring rookies on the fundamentals while helping veterans sharpen their skills.

"Ralph had a knack for getting along with the players and helping them improve," said Joe Gallagher, who coached Mr. Hawkins at St. John's and remained close friends throughout the years. "He was always very calm, never loud or braggadocio."

After leaving the Redskins, Mr. Hawkins coached defensive backs for the Baltimore Colts for one season. From 1979 to 1981, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the New York Giants.

He next joined the staff of Buffalo Bills head coach Chuck Knox and followed Knox to the Seattle Seahawks from 1983 to 1988. Mr. Hawkins returned to New York in 1989, working as the Jets' defensive coordinator for head coach Joe Walton.

By the early 1990s, Mr. Hawkins had turned his focus to player personnel as a scouting official, evaluating potential players for the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts. In 2000, the Houston Texans expansion team hired Mr. Hawkins as a college scout, a position he held for two years before announcing his retirement.

"He had a talent for picking good players," Gallagher said of Mr. Hawkins. "He looked not only for athletic talent, but for intelligence and personality."

Mr. Hawkins, who lived on Fenwick Island, Del., was a native Washingtonian who grew up in a house on Massachusetts Avenue near American University. He excelled in sports as a youth, once scoring 38 points in a basketball game for St. John's.

He helped his alma mater win Catholic league championships in basketball, football and baseball. But he also enjoyed playing the drums, like his father, who was a professional musician and once played with Benny Goodman's band.

He won an athletic scholarship to the University of Maryland and played on its 1955 Orange Bowl team. Mr. Hawkins, whose positions on the team included quarterback, running back and defensive back, graduated with a degree in physical education.

He briefly played professional football for the old New York Titans before turning to coaching. He coached at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington in 1958 and served as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland. He held assistant coaching positions at Southern Methodist University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the University of Kentucky and the University of Cincinnati.

Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Carol Hawkins of Fenwick Island, where they lived for about 15 years; four children, Kathleen Hawkins of Winchester, Va., Kristin Oster of Fredericksburg, Karianne Hawkins of Detroit and Andrew Hawkins of Fenwick Island; and four grandchildren.


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