Hawkins acquired the nickname "Captain Who" prior to a Baltimore Colts/Chicago Bears game, when the team captains were being introduced to each other before the game. Bears' Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus responded to the official's reference to "Captain Hawkins" by blurting out "Captain Who?"
In the 1970s, Hawkins worked as a color commentator for Falcons radio, and for TVS' Thursday night World Football League (WFL) telecasts and CBS' NFL telecasts. In 1977, the NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys was televised by CBS and covered by play-by-play announcer Vin Scully with Hawkins as color commentator. At one point Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach was shown jogging off the field, and Hawkins commented to Scully, "You know, Vin, that Roger Staubach runs like a sissy." To which Scully responded after a period of stunned silence, "You know, Hawk, they tell me you didn't always wear your helmet when you played!" The next day CBS fired Hawkins.