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.