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Class of 2011: Chris Hanburger

The Washington Redskins picked North Carolina linebacker Chris Hanburger in the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft. The All-American started to make his mark late in his rookie season as he began to form a reputation as a player who made big plays. Soon thereafter he assumed the role as the “quarterback” of the Redskins defense while becoming one of the most dependable and steady linebackers of his era.

He was an integral part of the dominant Redskins teams of the 1970s. At the same time that Washington was rising to the top of the NFL, Hanburger began earning national acclaim. He was selected first-team All-Pro four times in a five-season span from 1972 to 1976 and named All-Eastern Conference in 1968 and 1969 and All-NFC six times in seven seasons from 1970 to 1976. Hanburger was also voted to nine Pro Bowls in his 14-season career.

His performance in the 1972 season gained him perhaps his greatest notoriety as he helped lead the Redskins to its first ever Super Bowl berth. He recorded numerous game-changing plays throughout the season as Washington won the NFC East with an 11-3 mark. He shared the team lead with a career-high four interceptions which he returned for 98 yards. That total included an interception of a Joe Namath pass which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown in Washington’s 35-17 win over the New York Jets on Nov. 5.

His strong play continued into that year’s postseason as the Redskins downed the Green Bay Packers 16-3 in the divisional playoff before facing the division rival Dallas Cowboys in the 1972 NFC Championship Game. Hanburger pitched in with two tackles and six assists as the Redskins routed the Cowboys 26-3. He added another strong game in his only Super Bowl appearance when he recorded four solo tackles and assisted on two others in a 14-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII.

In all, Hanburger recovered three fumbles for touchdowns which stood as an NFL record at the time of his retirement following the 1978 season. He also had 19 career interceptions for 347 yards and 2 TDs.


Three Key Moments
Off Broadway
The Redskins went 11-3 and reached the Super Bowl in 1972, with Hanburger making many key plays. One of those plays was Hanburger's interception of Joe Namath that he returned 41 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets on Nov. 5. He intercepted Namath again on the next series as the Redskins went on to win, 35-17.
The Hangman cometh
Hanburger was known for wearing a two-bar facemask and would often tackle players with a single-arm clothesline, earning the nickname "The Hangman." Hanburger was quick to defend himself, though, telling those that didn't like his style of tackling they "should duck."
1972 NFC Championship Game
The Redskins faced the rival Cowboys in the 1972 NFC Championship Game, and Hanburger was all over the field as he contributed two tackles and six assists as Washington crushed Dallas, 26-3, to advance to its first Super Bowl. And while the Redskins would lose Super Bowl VII to the Dolphins, Hanburger had four solo tackles and two assists.


"He was my kinda player. He was a great linebacker. He had a lot of ability. He was very, very quick -- quicker 'n me. He wasn't a big linebacker. I was 20, 25 pounds bigger than Chris. I was in the middle and the defense was built around me. But he was one of the best blitzers that I've ever seen in the NFL. He was quick and tough, and he was a hangman." -- Hall of Famer Sam Huff

"He'd be so happy for Chris because it respects the game for a dedicated player who didn't play the game for the limelight," -- George Allen's son, Bruce Allen


Career Statistics:

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