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"The Rivalry," John Hannah, and More

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a word about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry

It occurred to me recently that of all the four major professional sports (no, NASCAR is not one of them), the one abiding rivalry that never seems to go away is the war between Red Sox Nation and The Evil Empire. Legions of players on both sides have come and gone (and even passed away from old age) yet the fire burns bright nearly every single time these two teams face each other.

People in other parts of the country may grow tired of this phenomenon at times, but it’s apparent that most New Englanders don’t have the same limited capacity. We revel in it. There’s genuineness to the whole proceeding that seems to cut through all the fluff and frivolity that has invaded most of the rest of sport, almost like Ali-Frazier. When the bell sounded for those two goliaths, nothing else mattered. Which celebrities showed up to witness the three bouts of the trilogy was immaterial. Everything revolved around who did what in that little bull ring and anything not directly related to the two fighters exclusively was cast aside like yesterday’s news.

Red Sox-Yankees is like Ali-Frazier except for the fact that after three fights those two men realized one more contest would probably kill both of them. Our little baseball war is a hundred years old…and counting.

“The best I ever saw” (Part three of a series)

The best offensive lineman I ever saw in a New England Patriots uniform was John Hannah. Now, there’s something you should know about this selection, because in reality I only saw Hannah ply his trade for two years (’84-’85). Interestingly, while those were his last two years in the NFL, he looked pretty dominant to me, especially during New England’s AFC playoff run in ’85. This is quite significant because it goes without saying that his best years were already behind him by the time I started watching.

If you compared him to the woolly mammoths that roam the trenches today, Hannah would resemble a stocky tight-end with a bad attitude. However, if you look closely at the current crop of NFL and collegiate linemen, the bulk they carry isn’t nearly as defined as the chiseled slab of granite that was Hannah’s body. Most of today’s guards can’t run like he did, either. I remember numerous times seeing Hannah pull and marveling at his quickness and speed getting to the outside on sweeps. Not only did he overpower linebackers, but he could get into the defensive backfield as well and really screw with them, too.

There isn’t much in the way of video history on the ‘net about him, but the signature John Hannah play that I will always remember comes from the ’85 Divisional round of the playoffs when the Patriots went to Los Angeles to play the Raiders. The Pats won 27-20, but the one play I’m referring to is the short touchdown run by Craig James late in the first half. It was only a two yard TD, but he probably ran a total of 25 yards on the play and not a single black-clad player got a hand on him. You see, big ol’ #73 was the pulling guard on that play and he came around the end with a full head of steam, arms pumping and nostrils flaring like a racing workhorse. As it turned out, the only defender with a shot at making the tackle on James was safety Stacey Toran, and quicker than slick, Hannah was into him, blocking him low and knocking him down like a bowling ball blasting a lone pin. Toran didn’t have a chance. The block was pure football poetry to behold and one of Hannah’s last truly great individual plays.

Hannah just might be the best the Patriots ever had, Tom Brady included.

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

If you statistically compare Tom Brady’s fifth year (2004) in the league with Drew Bledsoe’s (1997), they are remarkably similar. Brady completed 60.8% of his passes, Bledsoe 60.2%. Brady had 28 TDs, Bledsoe also had 28. Brady had 14 interceptions while Bledsoe had 15. Brady threw for 3,692 yards and Bledsoe threw for 3,706.

Answer to last week’s question:

Rodney Harrison ticked off many of his new teammates when he laid out Kevin Faulk during one of his first practices with the team.

Question of the week:

How many players have participated in at least four Super Bowls while playing for the Patriots?

(Answer will be provided next week)

1 comment:

  1. Wow I totally agree with John Hannah and the Red Sox and Yankee rivalry! Awesome article.