Chat transcript with John Hannah, Oct. 6, 2000


Legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant said of John Hannah, "He was the greatest lineman I ever coached." Would-be defenders soon found out why he was so great during his 13-year pro career with the New England Patriots. Hannah became the first Patriot ever inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991, in his first year of eligibility.

MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us today, John. How are you doing today?
John Hannah: Doing great! Just glad to be here.

saleemc: How did you feel about being called "The Greatest Offensive Lineman Alive" during your career?
John Hannah: I think it's quite an honor. But, I've always believed beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There have been a lot of great linemen who I've played with, so it's hard to say who the best is.

mdawg:Who do you feel is the best offensive lineman today? Why?
John Hannah: To be quite honest, I really don't know and couldn't say. I haven't kept up with the game as well as I should.

bearsfan: Hi, John. Who's the toughest linebacker you ever had to block?
John Hannah: It was probably earlier in my career, when I had the distinct displeasure to play in front of Dick Butkus. Although he didn't have the legs he did when he was young, he could still pack a wallop.

EnglishNFLfan: Football started being shown over here in England in '83. You were one of my first football heroes. Are you still involved with football or the NFL in a coaching capacity?
John Hannah: No, I am not. I went to work during the offseason in 1984 with L.F. Rothschild, an investment banking firm. And I've been in the business ever since.

Pete: Who was the best coach you ever had in the NFL?
John Hannah: Chuck Fairbanks. He had a great eye for talent and great organizational skills. He surrounded himself with really good people. Oh, and the best offensive line coach was Jim Ringo.

bearsfan: What's it like to have your father and brother also as NFL alumni?
John Hannah: I think it's great. When I was a rookie, my father had a lot of insight and helped me out a lot. I hope I did the same thing for my brother Charlie when he was playing.

asternig: John -- seems linemen just keep getting bigger and bigger (example Detroit's Aaron Gibson, who's playing at well above 380). How did you rate in your day in terms of size and how do you think the game will change as players keep getting bigger?
John Hannah: I was one of the smallest guys on the offensive line back then. The way the game is played today, they've given up mobility for size because it's all pass protection. What's happened is that a lot of the greatness of the game is being missed without a running game. A lot of the schemes and quality of play is definitely missing today.

mdawg: What is your favorite memory of playing in the NFL?
John Hannah: I guess there would be two. First, was winning the AFC Championship against Miami in '85. Second, I would say the friendships and being around all those people in the locker room was a great experience.

saleemc: How tough was it to have Super Bowl XX as the last game of your career?
John Hannah: Real tough. I was hoping to come back the next year and be able to come back and keep things going. What happened was, after the season, they found that my femur was wearing down. So, I basically had to call it a day.

lejohn: What was it like to play with players like Steve Grogan, Sam Cunningham, Darryl Stingley, etc.?
John Hannah: It was excellent and a lot of fun. It motivated you to play better. You knew you had to keep up with these guys.

Hog73: John, which defensive player do you wish you could have played against, but never did?
John Hannah: I think I played against a lot of great ones! People like Merlin Olsen and Bob Lilly were always on the other side. I was on the other side of the ball against them. However, Howie Long, Randy White, Joe Klecko, Fred Smerlas...those were all great names I played against.

packman04: Are the Patriots going to turn it around this year? What's with the offensive line giving up all those sacks?
John Hannah: To be quite honest, I think the Patriots need a better offensive line coach. To teach offensive linemen, you need to have played the game. Until they get a new coach and create a better offensive scheme, I don't see things getting better.

bearsfan: What was your favorite town for road games?
John Hannah: During the season, I never got to go out much. We got in on Saturday nights and I would sit in the hotel. So, we never got to see much. However, during the preseason we would go to San Francisco and practice there for a week. I really enjoyed my time there. It was actually Palo Alto where we were.

MODERATOR: And finally...

Hog73: John, Is there a huge difference in enjoyment in watching a game on TV as compared to watching it live as far as not being able to really watch what the offensive line is doing? Or are you able to just enjoy the game without concentrating on what the line is doing?
John Hannah: I would rather watch the line at the game. The reason why is because you can see all five people. You can see the defensive scheme and the reaction to it. 

MODERATOR:Thanks for joining us John. Any final thoughts?
John Hannah: I appreciate being here as this was my first chat! Thanks everyone!

MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us for our chat. Check back for often for more chats with Hall of Famers! Have a great day!

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