During an appearance on this week's "1819 News: The Podcast," NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman John Hannah, who starred at the University of Alabama, discussed his football career, including playing for legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
Hannah shared that as a nine-year-old in Georgia, his friends mocked him by saying, "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the kitchen door." He said his dad, who played at Alabama, had him join the junior high football team to earn the respect of his peers.
The former Tide offensive lineman who went on to star for the New England Patriots described how he won the starting position despite being younger than everybody else on the team but got hurt in the first game. When his dad tried to take him out of the game, Hannah reminded him he did not want to come out because of "Fatty, fatty, two by four."
After high school, Hannah went on to play for Bear Bryant, who won six national championships while leading the Crimson Tide. He said Bryant taught him that he "could go further than you ever thought you could."
"[I] remember my sophomore year, week before we played Southern Cal, it was, I mean, scorching hot, humid. It was one of those typical Tuscaloosa days," Hannah recalled. "And coach Bryant came through the tunnel to get to the practice field, and he was whistling 'Amazing Grace.' I knew it was going to be a rough one. Anyway, after about a 45-minute individual drill, we got to doing our ... controlled scrimmage. And we went, and we went, and we kept going, and all of a sudden, guys in the huddle would just fall out. I think at the end of the day, there were about 10 guys sent to the hospital with heat stroke or dehydration. Several others had gone with either knees or broken bones or something. I mean, it was one of those rock 'em sock 'em days."
He continued, "And, anyway, I get back to crawl up the stairs to my bedroom, and I hear all of the suitcases clicking and hear the trunk of cars closing and people driving off, and a lot of people left. And I said, 'I'm going to quit, too, but dadblamed, I've earned supper. I'm at least going to eat supper.'... Anyway, I fell asleep and didn't go to eat supper; woke up the next morning, and I said, 'Well, heck, I'm here. I might as well stay.' Anyway, we had a 3:00 meeting, and coach Bryant comes in, and he winds that clock and says, 'Well, boys, I'm a little early, but we'll go ahead and get started anyway.' Every day, five minutes before — that's when the meeting started. Not at the time. Anyway, he goes in and says, 'Boys, y'all learned a big lesson yesterday.' He said, 'You'll push yourself and push yourself, and you'll think you're going to die, but the human body is an amazing machine. It'll always pass out before it dies.' And it clicked."
According to Hannah, the lesson he learned from Bryant was that he could "outwork everybody," which is a mindset that helped him through his career and eventually get inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1991.
"When I went into pro ball, I knew I wasn't the most gifted athlete. But I knew I could probably outwork everybody I played in front of," he outlined. "If I got my butt whooped through the first quarter, I'd last out to where I would come out ahead at the end anyway. That was kind of the attitude I had because of what I had learned from coach Bryant."
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