Former NFL Star Andrew Hawkins Talks Working With Keke Palmer on 'Are We There Yet?' (Exclusive)

Former NFL wide receiver Andrew "Hawk" Hawkins is making a name for himself in the video game world as he helped create the virtual reality game, NFL Pro Era. And because of that, he was featured on the Meta series Are We There Yet? which is hosted by Keke Palmer. PopCulture spoke exclusively to Hawkins about the experience of working with Palmer and showing her the NFL's first officially licensed VR game. 

"It was amazing," Hawkins exclusively told PopCulture. "I am a huge Keke Palmer fan. She is like, I'm not just saying this, I think she is the most talented person in entertainment. It's so effortless to her. And I was a huge fan before I did the show. And when I was on set, I was in awe because I didn't even realize the level of effortlessness that it is to her. Because I mean, she has such an infectious personality, she's so curious, and it comes through and she makes you feel so comfortable. That's honestly one of the most fun that I've had on set in entertainment."

Keke Palmer and an NFL Pro Tackle VR Sports & Fitness | “Are We There Yet?”

Want to feel the glory of throwing a clutch touchdown in a sold-out stadium? See how VR puts you in the shoes of your favorite athletes with Keke Palmer and Andrew Hawkins. Learn more about where VR is today—and what’s coming in the future on “Are We There Yet?”

Posted by Meta on Friday, February 10, 2023

On the show, Hawkins and Palmer play NFL Pro Era, and it looked like Palmer was holding her own on the football field. This leads to the question of how the 29-year-old actor and television personality would fare in the real NFL. "Well, I think the beautiful part about NFL Pro Era and VR in general is that it removes the obstacles from you being an NFL player, right? So it's like, there's always two parts to add. The sports, there's the physical aspect, and there's mental aspect," Hawkins said.

"Now, unfortunately, not everybody is born six foot five, two hundred and twenty-five pounds of muscle and runs like a small vehicle. So for someone like Keke, she did incredible because she's incredible at processing. She picked it up really fast. She understood, "Okay, if that then this." And that's such an important part as well. So I actually think if the physical side of it was there, she probably would be a pretty good football player, specifically a quarterback."

NFL Pro Era is part of a partnership the NFL has with Hawkins' company called StatusPro. And the game was originally a training product for NFL teams. "The players would go against these 3D avatars in a headset or in a projection wall, and they would have fun. And that's what sparked it for us was like, 'Man, if the players think this is fun, imagine what a fan would think.'" Hawkins explained.

"And so that's how we kind of transitioned to ... not transitioned, but in addition to our training product, started to figure out what is the fan engagement solution here? And obviously, gaming made the most sense. And we've spent years and years both locking down the licenses and developing the game to get us to where we are now."