This offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
Patriots OG John Hannah
Hannah was the first New England Patriot elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s and the 1980s, and the No. 1 guard on the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant called Hannah the greatest lineman he ever coached. Sports Illustrated called him the best offensive lineman of all time.
They said it
"You see people taking a dive to get out of his way. You'll see John clear out a cornerback, then a safety, and he'll just continue on. He won't leave his feet. Sometimes he'll just stick out a big paw and swat 'em out of the way. He thinks on his feet, too. He doesn't make any wrong choices. He knows exactly which man to concentrate on and which one isn't in position to make the play."
--Former Patriots head coach Ron Erhardt
Hannah was the leader of the Patriots’ offensive line that paved the way in 1978 for 3,165 rushing yards, which remains an NFL record. When Hannah retired after the 1985 season, he was still playing at an elite level. He was named that season to his eighth straight Pro Bowl and ninth overall. He was also first-team All-Pro in his final season, making it for the seventh time in his final nine seasons. But by that time, Hannah had no cartilage remaining in his left knee, two bad shoulders and a femur that was beginning to deteriorate, according to the team doctor, who recommended retirement.
Did you know?
Hannah missed just five starts due to injury in 13 years and he made nine Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro seven times. He was a national champion wrestler in high school and wrestled for Alabama, where he also threw the shot put and the discus. His 61-foot-5-inch shotput was the school record at the time.
In a Dec. 13, 1978 game against the Cowboys, in which the Patriots lost 17-10, Hannah thoroughly dominated Cowboys Hall of Fame DT Randy White. The Patriots rushed for 213 yards against the eventual NFC champions. According to a Sports Illustrated story by Paul Zimmerman three years later, “The coaches still talk about it in Foxboro.”
Previous "Team for the Ages" player announcements