Chris Hanburger Of The Washington Redskins Is On The Cusp Of Immortality
The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters meet on February 7, 2011. In the group of players that they will decide from, Washington Redskins legend Chris Hanburger, a Seniors nominee, could very well find himself being inducted into the heralded walls of Canton.
Some of you may recall my quest to get Chris his long overdue respect. His nine Pro Bowls are the most in Redskins history, and his four First Team All-Pro honors is tied with the legendendaty "Slingin" Sammy Baugh as the most in franchise history. He was also named 1972 Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL 101 Committee.
I wanted to give you real Redskins and NFL fans a gift. I spent months talking to players and coaches Chris played against or with. They graciously gave me quotes and letters, which I compiled into a package and submitted to the Seniors Committee of the Hall of Fame a few months ago.
For those who saw Hanburger play, none of these quotes will surprise you. For those younger fans oblivious to his greatness, this may help educate you on the impact Chris Hanburger had on the game of football while wearing a Redskins jersey.
Please enjoy :
JACKIE SMITH Tight End 1963 - 1978 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1994
As tight end playing for St. Louis and in the same division as the Redskins, I played against Chris twice a season for quite a few years. When I first started playing, linebackers were big strong guys, not very mobile and geared more to stopping the running game.
Chris should be the "poster boy" for the new era of linebackers that could not only be effective against the run, but equally effective against the pass. His combination of strength and speed made it very difficult to block him or even get position on him. His ability to anticipate and then react allowed him to knock down passes in the intermediate distances and make tackles on the opposite side of the field.
He had to be the first linebacker to broaden the scope of the linebacker and increase the expectations of other teams of their linebackers.
I seriously doubt if I ever effectively blocked Chris. My guess is I only got in his way for a split second, because he was intent on being where the ball was on every play.
He was a player all teams had to prepare for...or at least try to.
Added to his great skill is another important aspect of Chris Hanburger. We need to remember the gentlemen that played this game. These are players that played the game with their heart because they appreciated the opportunity and wanted to do their best. They modestly reflect on their accomplishments simply because they would not have been satisfied with less.
Chris Hanburger belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Joe Gibbs Former Head Coach, The Washington Redskins 1981 - 1992, 2004 - 2007 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1996
When Chris was an active player, I coached against him when I was an assistant coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. When we prepared our game plans, we always considered how Chris might react against our plays. We considered him to be an exceptional player and we always took that into consideration during our game planning. He was an all around player who made the most of his abilities. He was tough and smart – two player qualities that I always wanted in my players.
Even though I never coached Chris, I have respect for him as a person and a football player. He is a big part of the Washington Redskins history.
Tony Liscio Offensive Tackle Dallas Cowboys 1963-71
With great pleasure I would like to tell what a great football player Chris Hanburger
was for the Washington Redskins Football Team during his professional career.
During my 9 years as an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys I had many
opportunities to block Chris, which was a very hard task for anyone.
His knowledge of the game and exceptional speed made him a difficult target to block.
Coach Tom Landry would always point out the ability that Chris had and would
emphasize the need to block him on every play. There was only a few players
that we would call out for special attention and Chris Hanburger was one of them.
We played back in the days when we played with pride and dignity and no one
displayed this better than Chris Hanburger. He is a credit to the NFL and a honored
member of the retired players who played with and against him.
Chris Hanburger is genuinely worthy of induction into the NFL Hall Of Fame.
His long Pro Bowl career where he was chosen by his peers speaks for itself.
This shows what his opponents thought of him.
This is the kind of player we need in Canton, OH.
TED MARCHIBRODA Quarterback/ Coach 1953 - 1998
Chris is the type of individual that belongs in the Hall of Fame. He would be a good fit, he really, really would.
He was spectacular, but you would never know by his personality. He did his job and went about his work, every week, every day. Chris was a team player all the way.
He was just a great person, a tremendous athlete and of great, great character. He was a very intelligent linebacker and moved very well. At that time, he was probably faster than most linebackers. He was very serious, serious in life and serious in football.
RUSTY TILLMAN Linebacker 1970-1978
To who it may concern,
This letter is a vote for Chris Hanburger to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While other Redskins have been inducted, Chris went to the pro-bowl 9 times; more than any other Redskin. Light for a linebacker (220), his play was year in and year out at the top of the NFL.
Chris made up for his lack of size with extreme quickness and textbook tackling. He was undoubtedly the quickest linebacker off the ball that I have ever seen.
He also did a fantastic job in pass coverage being able to cover excellent backs one on one.
And something that is frequently overlooked was his ability to call defenses on the field. I doubt seriously that any defensive player nowadays had the ability to look at a formation and to get the defense into the right call 99% of the time.
Chris was a leader by example and shunned the limelight. He was strictly a team guy.
If the committee to elect will look into his playing career, they will see exactly what I am talking about.
GEORGE ALLEN Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia 1994-1998 U.S. Senator, 2001-2007
“Chris Hanburger was a perfectionist and an always prepared leader and captain of my father’s Redskins Defense. Chris Hanburger was consistently in great physical shape, mentally tough and prepared, having meticulously studied opposing offenses. He was always in position to make a play or break a QB’s nose if he ventured into Chris’s territory.
“Because of his leadership and outstanding record of play, Chris Hanburger, a quiet man, surely deserve strong consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a premier LB during his playing days as his record shows, including numerous Pro Bowl appearances.”
JOHN E. McVAY Coach 1976 - 1978 1989 NFL Executive of the Year
Chris Hanburger played on those great Redskins teams, and for a super coach in George Allen. The fact that Chris was a perennial Pro-bowler should help his cause greatly. He was truly one of the best LBs in the league.
Chris was a little undersized but was very productive and could cover receivers out of the backfield with ease. I remember him as being outstanding, on a team loaded with great players.
MYRON POTTIOS Linebacker 1961 - 1973
To :Senior Committee HOF
I am sending this letter to you to recognize and give Chris Hanburger his place in the HOF
In my thirteen years playing in the NFL I had the honor to play with ten teammates that are in the HOF. Chris has the qualities that all of these ten Hall Of Famers possess.
1. Leadership on the field
2. 9 Pro Bowls
3. Longevity – 14 yrs
WILLIE J. YOUNG Offensive Tackle 1966 - 1975
As a former professional football player, I would like to recommend Chris Hanburger, to the National Football Hall of Fame.
Chris possesses all of the qualities a talented athlete should have in order to receive this prestigious recognition. Chris is a valuable asset to the sport of football. He is a professional person on and off the playing field. Teammates and friends compliment his character of not just a player but also, as an outstanding man.
You'd be hard pressed to find a player who was more dedicated than Chris, and I recommend him as a rock solid addition for this outstanding honor.
DIRON TALBERT Defensive Tackle 1967 - 1980
I FIRST MET CHRIS AT A MINI CAMP IN WASHINGTON DC. I HAD JUST BEEN TRADED TO THE SKINS FROM THE LA RAMS ALONG WITH JACK PARDEE, MAXIE BAUGHN AND OTHERS INCLUDING RICHIE PETTIBONE.
I WAS DEFENSIVE RIGHT TACKLE AND I WAS HAPPY TO HAVE CHRIS ON THE RIGHT LINEBACKER. I HAD WATCHED HIM PLAY FOR A FEW YEARS, AND I KNEW HE WAS THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE.
ALWAYS A GOOD LEADER, OUR DEFENSIVE CAPTAIN AND DEFENSIVE GENERAL ( SIGNAL CALLER ).
HE MADE BIG PLAYS, AND WAS THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER ON OUR TEAM FOR ALL THE YEARS I PLAYED THERE.
WITH 9 PRO BOWL APPEARANCES, AND ALL THE OTHER CREDENTIALS, THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT CHRIS HANBURGER BELONGS IN THE NFL HALL OF FAME ALONG WITH MY GOOD FRIEND KENNY HOUSTON.
I WILL BE HAPPY TO DISCUSS WITH THE SENIOR COMMITTEE IF NEEDED.
MIKE DITKA Tight End 1961 – 1972 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1988
Chris was a hell of a player. He could beat you with finesse. He was always in position, and was smart and quick. He also could use power.
He was quiet and did his job, having a great career without the attention he deserved.
People get too caught up in statistics. He knocked me on my ass.
When I was in Dallas, Coach Landry would always tell us to watch him.
He belongs in the Hall Of Fame.
CHARLIE SANDERS Tight End 1968 - 1977 Hall Of Fame Inductee 2007
Chris was smart. He was a real student of the game, and studied his opponents. He had a nose for the ball, and was very hard to block. He always gave me a headache.
RAYMOND BERRY Wide Receiver/ Coach 1955 – 1967, 1968-1992 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1973
He should be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Nine Pro Bowls speaks for themselves.
I remember one play I caught a pass, and Hanburger absolutely blasted me. As he was laying on me, I fixed my helmet, looked at him and asked, “Are you OK?” Hanburger looked at me stunned by the question.
SONNY JURGENSEN Quarterback 1957 – 1974 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1983
Chris Hanburger is the smartest linebacker to ever play in the NFL. He was a coach on the field.
Chris belongs in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. His nine Pro Bowls is proof.
JOE DeLAMIELLUERE Offensive Guard 1973 – 1985 Hall Of Fame Inductee 2003
You cannot talk about the NFL, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, without talking about Chris Hanburger. He had more heart than anyone in the game.
Do not judge a book by its cover. He played like a giant.
I cannot believe he is not in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame!
Roger Staubach Quarterback 1969 - 1979 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1985
Chris was an outstanding linebacker in the NFL. Even though we had our great rivalry and I didn't like the Redskins, I respected him.
John Hannah Offensive Guard 1973 - 1985 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1991
He was, at that time, the smartest player in the league. We did everything we could to try to eliminate him from the play. We knew if we didn't neutralize him, then we had less of a chance of winning.
Larry Csonka Fullback 1968 - 1979 Hall Of Fame Inductee 1987
Chris Hanburger was a fine and dedicated player who certainly has the qualifications to be seriously considered for induction in to the Pro Football of Fame.
Dave Wilcox Linebacker 1964 - 1974 Hall Of Fame Inductee 2000
Chris belongs in Canton. His nine Pro Bowls is proof.
MAXIE BAUGHAN Linebacker 1960 – 1970, 1974
Hanburger very much should be in Canton. There are less qualified player than him already in.
He played to win, and was smart. He was seldom fooled, and he played even when he was injured.
CHARLE YOUNG Tight End 1973 – 1986
Chris Hanburger was one of the best. It takes an All-Pro, such as myself, to know another All-Pro.
He was the toughest linebacker I ever went against in my career.
He was extremely difficult to block, and he was never out of position. He was a smart, hard working player who got the job done.
He could read you. He knew what you were going to do before you did.
HOMER JONES Wide Receiver 1964 – 1970
I feared Chris Hanburger much more than Dick Butkus, or any other linebacker in the NFL. He could run with me, and he could hit very hard. He was also very smart.
Chris Hanburger deserves entry into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
NORM BULAICH Fullback 1970 – 1979
Chris Hanburger should be in Canton. The voters must wake up. He went to nine Pro Bowls!
Voters do not realize how hard it is to just make an NFL team, let alone be voted to the Pro Bowl by your peers.
He is at the top of my list of linebackers I played against in my career.
I respected him. He had great football sense. He was very fast, and hard to block. His knowledge of defense was excellent, and he always got to the ball.
PAT RICHTER Tight End/ Punter 1963 – 1970
Chris is the most intelligent, intense, and disciplined player I have ever been around. He had his game face on 24/7. He was a great leader, and I liked having him lead our team.
He was active, tough, quick, and very hard to fool.
KEN GRAY Offensive Guard 1958 – 1970
Chris Hanburger deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. He was a great player. It is sad he has been overlooked all of these years.
JERRY SISEMORE Offensive Tackle 1973 – 1984
He was one of the best, and never got the credit he deserved. He ran the defense for the Redskins, and changed the way defenses were operated.
He had the respect of every member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was smart, and he would wear us out. I was always chasing him, but never caught him. I used to watch him in amazement.
HERB MUL-KEY Running Back 1972 – 1974
Chris Hanburger was the first defensive quarterback ever in NFL history. Coach George Allen put him in charge of the defense, and he was never out of position.
He was an invincible warrior, and his nine Pro Bowls were voted by his peers. There is no way that Chris Hanburger should not be in Canton.
JIM OTIS Fullback 1970 – 1978
I cannot believe Chris Hanburger is not in Canton already!
He was outstanding. Intelligent, sneaky, and unblockable. He always was ready to play, and did everything a great linebacker is supposed to do.
JIM HANIFAN Coach 1973 – 2003
Chris Hanburger played a mistake free game. He just never made mistakes. Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, and I would game plan on him, but it did not work.
He was intelligent and excellent. He deserves induction into Canton. .
I will always remember one particular game. George Allen had Hanburger reading the hand signs Gibbs and I was flashing to Jim Hart, our quarterback. Hanburger kept making play after play, destroying our game plan. I got so mad. On the next play, I saw Hanburger looking over at our sideline. I flashed him the middle finger, which caused Hanburger’s jaw to drop as he looked at me in disbelief. I still laugh today at this memory.
SONNY RANDLE Wide Receiver 1959 – 1968
Chris Hanburger is as fine a linebacker who has ever played. It is a mystery as to why he has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame yet.
CALVIN HILL Running Back 1969 – 1981
The best outside linebackers I ever faced were Chris Hanburger, Jack Ham, and Chuck Howley. It was Hanburger, however, who gave me the most trouble and taught me the most. Hanburger made me a better player.
He was scary.
He was the guy who captained the Redskins defense, and called their signals. I hardly ever beat him, and it usually took me all game just to beat him on a play.
You never knew when he was going to blitz, and he often jumped over me on a blitz. He was smart, and gave you different looks. He was a nightmare to oppose.
You would just hope to try to beat him some of the time. He was slippery, and was resourceful. He was difficult to beat athletically, because he was such a great athlete. He was great at the point of attack.
He could really run, and was fluid in his flow. You had to game plan specifically against him, because you knew he was a top opponent.
When I was with the Redskins, he was a great teammate. He was really great in practice also.
He was a big play guy who defined the WLB position. There is a reason he was a Pro Bowl player nine times.
The fact he is not in Canton shows the voters do not understand how good he was.
BRIG OWENS Safety 1966 – 1977
Chris Hanburger is one of the all-time greats. He was a strong leader both on and off the field.
It is inexcusable that he has yet to be mentioned for induction. He went to nine Pro Bowls, the most in franchise history.
He knew how to read plays. He would argue with Sam Huff in the huddle over what play to call, which kept the team loose.
He was a great friend and teammate.
PRESTON PEARSON Running Back 1967 – 1980
I had lots of clashes on the gridiron with him, and I never looked forward to opposing Chris Hanburger. He was an all around linebacker.
He was studied, and he knew his opponents. He was always well prepared.
Not only was he very smart, but he was a hard-hitting linebacker. He was really, really tough. He deserves induction.
ERNIE McMILLAN Offensive Tackle 1961 – 1975
Chris Hanburger was a force that was a factor on every play. He deserves entry into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
You had to watch him play in order to consider him. He was smart and reliable.
BRAD DUSEK Linebacker 1974 – 1981
Chris taught me everything I know how to play linebacker.
He was our “one” general on the team. He knew over 300 audibles for our defense.
He was modest, smart, quick, and fast. He was always one step ahead of the opponents. He had this amazing ability to read the eyes of running backs. He had a sixth sense.
Chris Hanburger should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
AUTREY HOWELL Offensive Tackle 1963 – 1969
Chris Hanburger belongs in Canton.
He was very smart and had great speed. His strength was his ability to diagnose a play.
LEN HAUSS Center 1964 – 1977
I was Chris Hanburger’s roommate for eight seasons on road games. He was always a smart player, and one of the hardest hitting players in the league.
He had a quiet, business like approach. He was not a “look at me” type of player, meaning he would never blow his own horn. He put the team first.
He would study the opponent’s non-stop. He knew the opposition, and was excellent at studying their tendencies.
He was a great player, and a team player. He deserves to be in Canton.
BILL ARNSPARGER Coach 1964 – 1994
Chris Hanburger deserves induction into Canton.
He was a complete linebacker who I respected. He was a winner who could beat you in several ways.
RICKIE HARRIS Defensive Back 1965 – 1972
Chris Hanburger was the smartest player I ever played with. I really respected him.
He taught me how to read a defense, and he often covered me on the field. He was so smart; you knew you could depend on him to play a defender. It made my job easier.
Our defense was dependent on him to get us in the right position. He was regimented on defensive duty, and knew all of our assignments.
He could run with everyone in the NFL, and he often covered wide receivers on pass plays. He is also one of the best blitzers I ever saw play.
Chris Hanburger was a great player, and he deserves induction into Canton.
ARCHIE MANNING Quarterback 1971 - 1984
I had the opportunity to play against Chris Hanburger several times.
Although small, he was an outstanding NFL linebacker.
He was equally good versus the run and pass and was one of the chief reasons the Redskins were so good during that era.
CHARLIE HARRAWAY Fullback 1966 – 1973
Chris was very smart. He knew the game, and the game plan. He was always in position, and knew his assignments. He was prepared.
Hanburger was quick and elusive, and made blockers miss. He had good finesse. He was a great teammate, level headed, and was never in a fracas.
WADE KEY Offensive Guard/ Tackle 1970 – 1979
Chris Hanburger deserves induction.
Look at his nine Pro Bowls. He is a more complete linebacker than guys who are already in Canton.
He was a fantastic linebacker. He supported the run and pass with excellence.
VINCE PROMUTO Guard 1960 – 1970
Chris was a team player, and not arrogant. He was really bright, fast, and tough. He came to play every day, was durable, and highly respected in the locker room.
He was a student of the game, and would learn from Sam Huff often.
Chris was a great linebacker, and he should be inducted into Canton.
RAY SCHOENKE Offensive Guard 1963 – 1975
Chris Hanburger is one of the best linebackers I ever saw play the game.
He was tremendously quick. No one could block him.
He was great defending the run and the pass, and was also excellent at rushing the passer.
RON SNIDOW Defensive End 1963 – 1972
I highly recommend Chris Hanburger being inducted into Canton.
He deserves it. He was dynamic and enthusiastic.
CARL KAMMERER Defensive End/ Linebacker 1961 - 1969
Chris was a sure tackler, and a devastating blindside hitter on the blitz.
On certain plays, we would switch responsibilities. He would blitz, and I would watch for the pass.
He loved to hit right-handed quarterbacks.
He was also a great human being.
MACK ALSTON Tight End 1970 – 1980
Chris was a great leader. He was the captain of the defense.
He was smart, and could diagnose a play in a hurry. He studied film non-stop.
Chris was tough, strong, quiet, and he was also a heck of a guy.
If he said something, while watching film with the team, you knew something was very, very wrong in the way we executed a play.
RON McDOLE Defensive End 1961 – 1978
Chris Hanburger was the best player we had on the Redskins.
He was the captain of the defense, and ran the show.
He deserves induction into Canton.
GEORGE STARKE Offensive Tackle 1973 – 1984
There has never been a finer linebacker in the history of the NFL than Chris Hanburger.
There was also none neither smarter nor tougher than him either.
I cannot see why he is not in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
JOE RUTGENS Defensive Tackle 1961 – 1969
Chris was smart, fast, and hit hard.
He deserves consideration for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Chris Hanburger Washington Redskins Linebacker 6'2" 220 1965 - 1978 14 Seasons 187 Games Played 19 Interceptions 17 Fumble Recoveries 5 Touchdowns 9 Pro Bowls 4 First Team All-Pro Teams 1972 NFL 101 NFC Defensive Player of the Year
Christian G. Hanburger was an 18th round draft choice of the Redskins in 1965. He was the 245TH player chosen that year. He was a 25 year old rookie, due to his service in the Army before going to the University of North Carolina.
At UNC, he was a 2 way player who was named All ACC at Center his junior and senior years. In 1963, his team won the ACC Championship.
Hanburger played right away and was in the Pro Bowl by his second year in the league. He would then begin a string of Pro Bowl appearances until 1969.
He then resumed that string in 1972 until 1976.
Sacks and tackles were not recorded in those days, but Hanburger was a playmaker.
He is considered one of the best of his era. He was known for his blitzing ability and pass coverage.
Ever the complete player, he returned three fumbles for touchdowns, the third most in NFL history, in his career to go with two more on interceptions.
In 1972, Hanburger captained the Over The Hill gangs defense to a Super Bowl appearance and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL 101 Club.
Hanburger was known not only for good speed, but his exceptional intelligence and quickness.
He had the innate ability to diagnose a play before the ball was hiked. He often would cover the other teams tight end and peel off to knock passes down meant for wide receivers.
Hall Of Fame coach George Allen liked to leave Hanburger in charge of the play calling on defense, and named his team captain for many seasons.
Chris Hanburger's nine Pro Bowl appearances are still the most by any player in the entire history of the Washington Redskins.
His four First Team All-Pro honors are tied with Hall Of Famer Sammy Baugh as the most in team history.
Please compare Chris Hanburger's achievements and all around game to some other linebackers already inducted into Canton.
Of the 18 linebackers that are inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, only seven are outside linebackers like Hanburger.
As you will be able to see, Hanburger exceeds or equals all of these football legends in several categories.
ANDRE TIPPETT 11 Seasons 1 Interception 19 Fumble Recoveries 2 Touchdowns 5 Pro Bowls 2 First Team All-Pro
DERRICK THOMAS 11 Seasons 1 Interception 19 Fumble Recoveries 4 Touchdowns 9 Pro Bowls 2 First Team All-Pro
LAWRENCE TAYLOR 13 Seasons 9 Interceptions 11 Fumble Recoveries 2 Touchdowns 10 Pro Bowls 8 First Team All-Pro
BOBBY BELL 12 Seasons 26 Interceptions 9 Fumble Recoveries 8 Touchdowns 9 Pro Bowls 6 First Team All-Pro
TED HENDRICKS 15 Seasons 26 Interceptions 16 Fumble Recoveries 2 Touchdowns 8 Pro Bowls 4 First Team All-Pro
DAVE WILCOX 11 Seasons 14 Interceptions 12 Fumble Recoveries 2 Touchdowns 7 Pro Bowls 2 First Team All-Pro
JACK HAM 12 Seasons 32 Interceptions 21 Fumble Recoveries 1 Touchdown 8 Pro Bowls 6 First Team All-Pro