Teammates nicknamed John Hannah "Ham Hocks" in college and "Hog" in the pros. Both monikers seem appropriate for Hannah. He weighed in at 11 pounds at birth, seemingly born to play football.
A standout performer at the University of Alabama, Hannah (born 1951) won eight letters in three sports. It was, however, in football that the Canton, Georgia, native was in a class by himself.
Coach Bear Bryant once said of his two-time All-American star, "John Hannah is the best offensive lineman I ever coached."
The son of Herb Hannah, who played for the New York Giants in 1951, and the brother of Charley, a tackle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Raiders, John had football in his blood.
John was the first-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1973 and quickly established himself as one of the premier guards in the league. His adjustment from the straight-ahead blocking style to the drop-back blocking and pulling required of pro guards so impressed the Patriots' coaches that they made him a starter as a rookie.
He anchored a Patriots line that in 1978 helped establish an NFL record for most yards gained rushing by a team in a season (3,165). The Pats also led the league in rushing in 1982 and 1983.
At 6'3", 265 pounds, Hannah was not exactly huge for an offensive lineman, but he played "big." "With his attitude," Patriots coach Ron Erhardt said, "John Hannah could play if he had been five feet two."
Although he battled injuries throughout his career, Hannah missed only eight games out of a possible 190 contests. The NFL Players Association's four-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, "Hog" earned All-Pro honors 10 straight years and was voted to nine Pro Bowls. In 1991, with his father Herb serving as his presenter, John Hannah was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.