Over the last several seasons, Redskins fans have been treated to some splendid play by one of, if not the, best linebacking core in the league.
With perennial Pro Bowler and NFL iron man London Fletcher, 2013 Pro Bowlers Ryan Kerrigan and Lorenzo Alexander, former Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, and Rob Jackson, I think its safe to say that the Redskins depth at the linebacker position is simply unheard of.
However, while those six men have been instrumental in limiting opposing defenses for years, they have competition at staking claim as the best linebacking core in franchise history.
Hall of Famers Sam Huff and Chris Hanburger are arguably two of the great linebackers in NFL history and for a four-year stretch in the late 1960′s, they terrorized opponents week in and week out lining up in burgundy and gold together.
Find out what these two former teammates had to say about their reign of destruction together here:
Sam Huff was selected by rival New York Giants in the 1956 NFL Draft and gave the Redskins fits for years as the All-Pro caliber linebacker became a thorn in the side of Washington. In 1964, however, Huff decided to turn in his Giants jersey in favor of a Redskins one as fans across the area rejoiced at the team’s newest addition.
Any doubts about his performance being affected with his move away from the Big Apple quickly vanished as he made his fifth Pro Bowl in his first season in the nation’s capitol. Starting in 1965, he was joined by a quick learning, highly-touted prospect from the University of North Carolina, Chris Hanburger.
“Of course I had been in the army for two years before I even went to college so I was a little older than the other rookies that were there,” Hanburger said of his first training camp with the Redskins. “And my philosophy going up there was just it’s a great chance and I’m going to do the best that I can, but if it doesn’t work out here I’m not going to quit here, I’ll go find some other team I can give a shot to.”
Redskins fans never had to worry about that scenario as he adjusted to the professional level with relative ease and veterans like Huff quickly noticed his knack for getting to the ball.
“I watched him come on board and I was a linebacker and he was a linebacker and when I saw how fast he was, I said ‘I’ve got to get another job some place,’” Huff said with a grin. “Fortunately, he was better on the outside , coming from the outside, to get to the quarterback then me coming up the middle.”
Hanburger who admitted that he knew little about the NFL during his time at UNC was admittedly stunned by Huff’s comments of praise.
“I never followed professional football when I was in college,” Hanburger said. “[But] that was a big thrill to have somebody like Sam, who I never even knew anything about him until I got to training camp, come up and tell me that.”
In Hanburger’s first season, he would only start five games, however, he saw a majority of his action on special teams where he became a ruthless tackler. In a rarity in today’s NFL standards, Huff also joined Hanburger on the unit.
“Going down on the field from the 50-yard line, running down there hitting the wedge which is four big guys, bigger than us, but we had to run and then you have to knock them over to get the guy that caught the ball, and take him down,” Huff said of the challenges of playing special teams. “I want to tell you something, nobody could take them down faster [than Hanburger]. I wasn’t hitting anybody. He beat me down the field and took them down and got up and said ‘Where were you, I was following you.’”
Word of Hanburger’s unprecedented tackling skills quickly spread and in his second season, he became a full-time starter on defense and corralled opponents non-stop for 60 minutes each and every week.
“I had somebody on the outside of me that could play, he and I together, and we did. We took a lot of guys apart,” Huff said of the one-two tandem “He’d come from the outside and I’d come up the middle and no trespassing. We hit them and we knocked them down. They’d start changing the rules because of what he and I did on the field. He was the best.”
In 2011, Hanburger rejoined his teammate and friend in the Hall of Fame as the two men will forever be joined in Canton, Ohio. With each passing year, there is no doubt that Huff and Hanburger are two of the all-time gridiron greats!
Congrats to both men once again!
Tags: Brian Orakpo, chris hanburger, london fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander, perry riley, rob jackson, ryan kerrigan, sam huff
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