Herb Hannah
Class of 2018

Herb Hannah
Herb Hannah never had anything in life handed to him. He worked hard for everything he got. That legacy of hard work and perseverance not only served him well, but it also served as a roadmap for his sons, who went on to follow in their father’s footsteps at the University of Alabama and in the NFL.

“Dad always worked really hard and had a deep sense of responsibility to take care of people,” his son, Hall of Fame offensive lineman John Hannah, said. “That was a big influence in all of our lives as kids. He never complained. If we got beat, he’d help us, but if we ever loafed or took it easy, he came down on us pretty hard. Trying was No. 1 with him, giving it all you had.”

That attitude is what took Herb Hannah from the fields of West Limestone, where he played 6-man football for West Limestone High School in 1941 and 1942 while also serving as captain of the Wildcats basketball team, to the United States Naval Academy, which he joined in 1942 and served for six years.

He then enrolled at Alabama as a 26-year-old freshman and played on the offensive line for the Crimson Tide during the 1947-1950 seasons before playing one season in the NFL for the New York Giants.

John Hannah said his father was originally planning to attend Clemson University, but the promise of an extra meal is what sent him to Alabama.

“Dad befriended a guy in the Navy named Rock McCants from South Carolina, and he kept talking to Dad about going to college, and Dad finally said he would go and asked him where he should go,” John Hannah said. “Rock said Dad should go with him to Clemson. So when he got out of the Navy, he went to Clemson, he told them he had half a VA scholarship, and if they gave him half a scholarship to play football along with a room to stay in and three meals a day, he’d like to play football there. Well, they said they had half a scholarship and a room for him but could only give him two meals a day.”

Herb Hannah then turned to the coach of his military football team, Hank Crisp, who was at that time coaching at Alabama.

“Hank had told Dad to look him up when he got out of the service, and so Dad went down to see Hank Crisp and told him the same thing he told Clemson. Hank wound up signing him, and since then four more Hannahs went to the University of Alabama behind my dad.”

John, Charley and David Hannah, each a son of Herb, played at Alabama. So did his brother Bill.

Tom Calvin, who roomed with Herb Hannah at Alabama, said he was a great player and great person to room with. “We had a good time and a good year,” Calvin said. “Herb Hannah was a heck of a good lineman at Alabama and was just a good guy.”

Herb Hannah, who died in 2007 at age 85, certainly left a football legacy at Alabama, but the personal legacy is something that stood out to his son.

“People never gave him anything. They just gave him a chance,” John Hannah said. “That’s what he preached. People give you the opportunity, but you earn what you get.”