Jeff Gravley

Why I wore No. 55 as a quarterback

Posted August 10, 2011

As a kid growing up in Oxford, we would form neighborhood football teams to play against each other. Nothing fancy, but what we called street league football was an avenue for us to play. I was on the Redskins team, and there were many battles to see who would wear what number.

Many clamored to wear 9 for Sonny Jurgensen, 43 for Larry Brown or Charley Taylor's 42.  

I chose 55 for linebacker Chris Hanburger, and I was a quarterback.

My tradition of wearing 55 and playing quarterback continued during my elevation to city league football. It was an odd sight seeing a quarterback donning double nickles, but Hanburger was my favorite player.

I liked the fact that he played in the ACC for North Carolina. (Hanburger was just named an ACC legend.) I also liked the way he played for the Redskins seeking quarterbacks like they had taken his lunch money. He was fearless and, while he was not the most athletic on the field, opposing players knew when they had been hit by Hanburger.

So this past weekend I enjoyed watching a humbled player accept his deserving spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His speech didn't contain a lot of facts about himself but rather his focus was on thanking people. Teammates, coaches, teachers and most importantly those who protect and serve.

"I'm an Army brat," said Hanburger who was born at Fort Bragg. "I spent two years in the Army right out of high school before I went to college. To me the real Hall of Fame people are all the men and women of our armed forces, all the men and women in law enforcement, and all the firefighters, men and women. These people, to me, go over and beyond making a tackle or a blitz or doing anything, completing a pass. They're wonderful people."

He then made one simple request. "I just ask you when you get a chance, just thank them. Two words: 'thank you.'"

Hanburger's speech just gave me another reason to like him. 

Somewhere in my attic is a medium-sized, maroon jersey with GRAVLEY on the back and number 55 spread across the front and back. I'm glad I saved it, and now more than ever I know I made the right choice for my number ... even for a Pop Warner quarterback.




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  • douggie64 Aug 14, 2011

    View quoted thread

    They don't know what to do with that "Red Rage" anymore. BD is gone, UNC is righting the ship without incurring the "death penalty" they were howling for. And the new NCSUX BB coach is already embroiled in controversy/scandal himself, with players transferring and recruits de committing. Oh, lets not forget that stellar AD Cow Yow making embarrassing public comments (WE NEED MONEY).

    So yeah, ain't Karma a BYTCH?

    Back on point, yes, this was a nice trip down memory lane. I was quite young then, but always loved watching my 'Skins play, especially with Hanburger making plays. I think I wore my 'Skins burgandy jacket with the yellow sleeves until the wrist cuffs were half way up my forearm.

  • StunGunn Aug 12, 2011

    View quoted thread

    + 1,000,000

  • forautumn Aug 12, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Just FYI, Mr. F.

    Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, 1985, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C."

    Bio of Jeff.

    go on back to Pack pride now.

  • forautumn Aug 12, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Only those with Red Rage....they seem to lack some maturity.

  • Me again Aug 12, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Exactly. Folks are too sensitive.

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 11, 2011

    I don't think that Jeff was supporting anything in regard to the scandal at UNC. His favorite player was a player at UNC many years ago. Then the Skins. #55. That's all there is in this one.

  • Mr. French Aug 11, 2011

    Good lord. The worst athletic and academic scandal in 50 years and Jeff writes an article showing what a UNC-CHeat homer he is.


  • gsloan Aug 11, 2011

    Nice fluff piece Jeff. Guess investigating UNC-Cheat is out of the question.

  • WufSkins Aug 10, 2011

    Yes, a great article, but MAROON jersey? The Redskins are BURGANDY and GOLD! Maroon is Miss State.

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 10, 2011

    I concur with JGunn. Great article Jeff. He was one of my favorite players too. I truly enjoyed his speech into the Hall of Fame. He totally gave all of the credit others. Great leadership trait to do this.




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