John Hannah Enshrinement speech
Pro Football Hall of Fame
July 27, 1991
Herb Hannah (presenter):
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Hall of Fame, ladies and gentlemen. There has never been a father more honored than I am today when John asked me to present him to you, it was just the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I couldn't talk to him when he first asked me I just froze up and turned it over to the wife. But the good Lord has blessed Coop and me with four fine sons, four beautiful daughters-in-law and seven very special grandchildren.
I am so thankful that most of us are here today to be with John as he receives this most coveted honor. A special thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for inviting us to share in this very special occasion which your hospitality has just been tremendous.
It is rare that a person is recognized as being the very best at what he does. The magnitude of this award can only be put in its proper perspective when you realize that only 155 men out of 1,000 that have played the game of football have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Early on I knew John had the qualities that greatness is made of. When he left Albertsville, AL for the New England Patriots 18 years ago, I told him that he could be just as good as he wanted to be. For 13 years I thought he was the very best there was at his position. When John was born, God gave him all the attributes of a great offensive guard. He had the intelligence, physical talents, a winning attitude, a friendly desire for excellence, a competitive nature and an unusual tolerance for pain. I, like the many fans who enjoyed watching John play, will always remember his exploding into a linebacker or a defensive lineman, leading the back-off tackle around end or dropping back on pass protection. Always giving it 100% on each and every play. The intensity of his play was always by the rules of the game and without any fanfare. He just went about doing his job Sunday after Sunday as good as or better than any offensive lineman that I ever saw play the game. I am sure that John will wear this most coveted honor with respect and humility and will conduct himself in such a manner as to bring dignity and honor to the game of football. With a tremendous amount of pride and happiness, it is my distinct pleasure to present to you, one of the newest candidates for induction into Pro Football Hall of Fame, my son, John Hannah.
He didn't tell you about the times he ran me around the house with a switch to improve my sweep. God I love football. And to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is probably the one fulfillment of a life long dream. You just don't know what it means to me. I remember when I was growing up in Albertsville, AL and mom and dad would take us to church and as soon as church was over we would fly home to try to see guys like Ray Nitschke, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and all those guys play and man I would sit there and froth at the mouth and say "wonder if I would ever be good enough to play with those guys and wonder if I will ever be able to play with them." And I remember even playing in the NFL and I had a coach, Jim Ringo, that had played the game and I went to him one time and said "coach, do you think I could have played with those teams in the 60s, do you think I was good enough?" Well, what today means to me is I made the cut, I'm on the team and right now I have the honor of playing along side the greatest heroes that ever played football. I also want to believe that this award means in some small way I might have given something back to the game that has given me so much.
First of all, it has given me a talent to establish a place in this world for John Hannah. And second of all, it has allowed me to provide for a family by doing something that I truly love to do. But the greatest gift this game gave me without the honors and the awards but the people and the lessons those people taught me. All these people were major influences in my life and they all made me what you see before you today. I want to talk to you about Major Luke Worsham who was my high school coach. He is the guy who really taught me and showed me what love was all about. Because he would shoulder my problems, he would always stand by me to offer me encouragement when things got tough and when things were going awry he would make sure he would correct me and get me right back on track. Also I want to thank a gentlemen that couldn't be here today and that is coach Paul Bryant. Coach Bryant left for me a lesson of setting lofty goals. And not only that but to run life's race to reach those goals. The greatest lesson that he left with me was that you have to beat your body, you got to make it your slave if you ever want to get where you want to go.
I want to thank people like Coach Chuck Fairbanks who taught me the importance of organization and surrounding yourself with talent so you could rely on the special gifts of others. He taught me that plans are frustrated without consultation but with wise counsel they are established. I want to thank people like Red Miller who was my first offensive line coach in the NFL. He told me there is no better pleasure in life than enjoy what you are doing because then you give it the best that you got and when you look back you are happy with what you have done. I want to thank Jim Ringo who is probably my favorite and best offensive line coach. Because what he taught me was you can't cling to and rely on the bases but that you have to push on to reach the full capabilities of the talents you have been given. I want to thank people like Raymond Berry who was my last coach with the New England Patriots. And what he taught me was the value of faith and that dreams can come true if you believe the thing is so even though it is not, it will be so. I want to thank teammates like Leon Gray, Bill Lenkatis, Booger Bob McKay, Andy Johnson, Sam Cunningham, Steve Grogan, Steve Nelson, and Pete Brock and all the rest of the guys who were there to cover up when I missed my blocks. I want to thank the guys who picked me up after football was over. Like Joe Fallon, Steve Alpert and John Lund and all those guys, Howard Harrah. Because all these guys taught me that there are people out there that are friends and are as close as brothers and I thank you for it.
My family has always meant the world to me, my brothers, Ron, Charlie, David. They always have been and always will be my best friends. The reason why is we have never had to prove our love for each other. As a matter of fact when we were kids we would fight like dogs and take each other for granted.
But you let somebody pick on one of the Hannah boys and you just better get ready to fight us all. I love them and it is always great to know that when there is a time of trouble or a time of joy there is always someone to share it with because there is nobody prouder with the other guys success and I am proud of Charlie and David and Ron and all that they have done, and they are accomplished in life.
I want to thank my mom and dad because they were always there. One time my mom and dad drove to Bristol, Tenn. to see my brother David play high school ball. They drove from the next day back to Birmingham, Al to see my brother Charlie play football in college and then they drove up to Cincinnati, Ohio to watch me play. They always gave it everything they had and a little more. They never failed to show us their love. Even when they had to punish us and although at the time it didn't feel so good, it didn't feel a whole lot like love and I look back now and see the fruits that punishment yielded and I might even think that they might have used that belt a few more times. I want to thank my dad for one of the greatest lessons any man has ever learned and I hope I will never forget it and that is to never be satisfied with what you have done but always reach out and forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead. To sum up and kind of tell you some other things, things I can't leave out. There is my wife, Page, my kids Seth and Marybeth and too many times in my career they have been left in the background and they are the ones who really deserve the praise. They taught me what it means to regard each other as more important than yourself. You know it is nice now to be known as Marybeth's and Seth's daddy rather than them being John Hannah's son and daughter. Page you are the Hall of Famer. You stuck by me through thick and thin when nobody else would, I can't tell you, I love you honey and I appreciate it. One other person that I can't leave out that I met when I was playing football and that was my God and my Savior. And I want to make sure I haven't forgot any of his benefits because he pardons all my wrongs, he heals are my diseases, he crowns my life with loving kindness and compassion, he satisfies my desires with good things and my strength is always renewed. Yes I thank God for football, for giving me the talent to play the greatest game that was ever created. I want to thank God for all the people who he has brought into my life and the lessons they taught. I want to thank God for a family which really understands the meaning of the family and tries to live their lives accordingly. Thank you fans for making this possible and thank you Football Hall of Fame and pro football thank you for everything and I appreciate this great honor and God Bless you.