Last season, I started doing some throwback Thursday posts on historical NFL players. I really enjoyed looking into the stories of these players and how God used them and has been using them since the end of their careers. It is time to start the same series for this year and I will since New England is hosting tonights game, it seemed like a good place to start for the throwback Thursday series.
So tonight, we look at one of the greatest members in Patriots history (#2 on a bleacher report list). His list of accolades are impressive. In his 13 year career, he was a 10 time All-Pro, 9 time Pro-Bowl-er, 4 time Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, as well as the All-Decade team for the 70s and 80s. He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and has had his #73 jersey retired by the Patriots. In all, it is a very impressive list of accomplishments, one that would make anyone proud. However, as you can read in this article from sbNation.com when reflecting on his accomplished career, he says he would have changed one thing. “I’m glad I played… The difference is why I played football. That’s the key. The motivation was basically to glorify myself. I wish I had played realizing that I wanted to give the glory to God.”
Hannah shares his thoughts and stories from his career in a book he co-wrote. Offensive Conduct : My Life on the Line. According to Amazon, the book talks about Hannah “Reflecting on how his mind-set proved detrimental beyond his playing days—leading to the breakup of his first marriage, his estrangement from his children, and an egomaniacal approach in the business world, and he shares how he ultimately found God.”
At the close of his Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech, Hannah said “One other person that I can’t leave out that I met when I was playing football and that was my God and my Savior. And I want to make sure I haven’t forgot any of his benefits because he pardons all my wrongs, he heals are my diseases, he crowns my life with loving kindness and compassion, he satisfies my desires with good things and my strength is always renewed. Yes I thank God for football, for giving me the talent to play the greatest game that was ever created. I want to thank God for all the people who he has brought into my life and the lessons they taught. I want to thank God for a family which really understands the meaning of the family and tries to live their lives accordingly.”
Also, check out this story of the Big Oak Ranch and how these amazing ranches for boys and girls got their start when John Croyle, a former Alabama football player, felt called by God to start these ranches but he needed some financial help to get it off the ground. Along came a college teammate, John Hannah, who gave Croyle his first NFL signing bonus to help fund the start of the ranch. Now, 42 years later, Big Oak Ranch has expanded to 3 facilities and has helped “meet the needs of hundreds of children by giving them a solid, Christian home and a chance to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.”
Here are my takeaways from Hannah’s story:
1- Life on the Line – This is a great phrase with double meaning. John Hannah is a hall of famer because of his life on the offensive line for the Patriots. But despite the accolades, he says he wished he had played for a different reason. He wanted to put his life on the line in living for God. That is what he is doing now, sharing his story with fans and kids and the importance of keeping God first. How about you? Are you willing to put your life on the line for God? Are you willing to make him the most important part of your life and share the story of what He is doing in your life every chance you get? I know that I feel challenged to live my life on the line for Him.
2-Why God? – Why should we live for God? I love the list that Hannah mentioned in his enshrinement speech. He said “he pardons all my wrongs, he heals are my diseases, he crowns my life with loving kindness and compassion, he satisfies my desires with good things and my strength is always renewed. Have you experienced God in these ways? If so, he is worthy of our worship and adoration. If you have not, invite him into the deepest, darkest pain and hurt that you experience in your life and see how He comes through for you. He will! He will satisfy all desires and will renew your strength.