Chris Hanburger to be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame
"I wouldn't call it daunting — if you knew the system, which we did," Hanburger said. "What made it work for us, we had mature players who understood what everybody did in every defense, I would say 99.9 percent of the time. It was a lot of fun to control the game right there on the field. We could audiblize at any time and we could audiblize to any defense we had, whether we had practiced it or not. When you have mature players, it takes a lot of pressure off the coach."
Although his accolades were many and the Redskins became an NFC power with Hanburger patrolling the field — he started the team's first Super Bowl at the end of the 1972 season, a loss to the undefeated Miami Dolphins — he had to wait more than three decades after his retirement to enter the Hall as a senior nominee. He figured he was never going to make it.
"I never even gave it any thought, to be honest with you," Hanburger said. "Other than the fact that if it ever happened, it would be wonderful and I'm not going to let it worry me at all. That's just the way I am about things. I had a job to do, and I tried to do it to the best of my ability."
Hanburger's life, including his football demeanor, was shaped by a military background. Born in Fort Bragg, N.C., he had a father, uncle and grandfather who were career military. He headed to the Army for two years before going to the University of North Carolina.
"I knew coming out of high school that I was not mature enough," he said. "I certainly hadn't applied myself in high school. And I needed to grow up a little bit."
An accident broke the bone underneath his eye socket and sent him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His vision eventually recovered, but his right eye and right ear remain slightly higher than his left eye and ear. He said the Army made him "very regimented and pretty much a creature of habit."
That made him perfect for a coach like Allen.
After he retired, Hanburger stayed in the Washington, D.C., area and would often go goose and duck hunting. He also played in his former teammates' various celebrity golf tournaments. Finally, he got tired of the traffic, the taxes and the rat race and moved to South Carolina, where he has no plans whatsoever to host his own golf tournament.
"The fewer people who know where I am," he said, "the happier I am."
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