BOSTON (CBS) – Toucher & Rich were joined by Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots legend John Hannah on Friday morning.
The former All-Pro left guard has a new book out called ‘Offensive Conduct: My Life On The Line’ and it details his foray into football.
Believe it or not, at 6′ 2″ 265 pounds John Hannah was actually bullied as a child. The kids would call him fat and other obscenities, so the soft-spoken Hannah played football as a way of being accepted and liked by his peers.
“When I a very young kid at nine years old, I guess today they would call it bullying, a bunch of my friends called me ‘fatty fatty two-by-four’, so I got the opportunity to play for one of my dad’s former athletes that coached the sixth, seventh and eighth grade team.”
“It taught me a lot of great lessons, and it helped me out a lot. But at the same time it created an attitude that maybe hurt me a lot too. I felt that maybe the only way I would be accepted would be as a successful athlete or a success. If I’m successful then people would like me.”
“That strive, or going after that goal all the time, probably prevented me from enjoying life as much and also maybe distanced me from a few people.”
The athletes of yesteryear almost begrudge the players of today for the amount of money they make.
Hannah’s conversation with Toucher and Rich shifted towards his relationship with the New England Patriots during his playing career, one that some would call highly contentious.
Football players like Hannah were not compensated fairly in their day, and Hog played the bulk of his career what he considered to be underpaid.
Looking back at it now, Hannah realizes his naivety and lack of maturity may have added to the friction with the team.
But at the same time, he felt “cheated” in comparison to other offensive lineman around the league, and even those on his own team.
“I’ve let it go now, I realize it was as much my problem as it was theirs [Patriots]. My attitude was I felt like if I’m going to be the best, if I’m the guy that’s considered the best in that league, I ought to get paid that way.”
“There was no free agency so they had you. It was like slavery in a way, you belonged to them,” said Hannah.
This segued into a discussion about former players speaking out against the NFL.
Many of them have stated publicly that they wouldn’t let their sons play football knowing what they know now about concussions and the lasting effects of sustained head trauma.
Rich has a son who’s just about that age, so he asked for Hannah’s recommendation on what parents should do.
“Would you recommend my son playing football?” Rich asked.
“If he likes the game, yes. But what I would do, especially with the brain trauma more than anything else, the biggest thing I would do is take the kid and get him a baseline.”
“In other words, check what his reasoning skills are, his short term memory. They can run these tests and give you a baseline, then every two to three years go back and get the test done again.”
“That way you can see if you’re falling off or losing some reasoning skills, memory skills whatever it is, you can make a decision if you want to continue to play or stop.”
“The idea then is to understand where you are, and if it starts deteriorating make a sound judgment,” said Hannah.
To hear his stories about playing for Bear Bryant at Alabama and the job that Nick Saban is doing, as well as his rural upbringing listen to the full interview below: