Big day approaching for Redskins LB Hanburger

Big day approaching for Redskins LB Hanburger
January 31, 2011, 1:50 pm
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Monday, January 31, 2011 8:45 a.m.

By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger

Chris Hanburger, who is up for selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the decision committee meets next Saturday, was an 18th-round draft pick in 1965. That is not that late of a pick by todays standards. There were just 14 teams drafting in the NFL-only draft (Hanburger was not selected in the eight-team, 20-round AFL draft), so he was the 245th overall selection. That would have made him a very late seventh-rounder today with the addition of compensatory picks, last year's draft had 255 selections. Out of the 280 players selected in the 1965 draft, four of them already are in the Hall of Fame. The Chicago Bears wound up with the third and fourth picks, and they took middle linebacker Dick Butkus and running back Gale Sayers. The Cardinals took quarterback Joe Namath with the 12th pick, and the Lions tabbed wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff of Florida State in the third round with the 39th overall selection. Both of them signed with the AFL and went on to Hall of Fame careers with the Jets and Raiders, respectively. Out of all of the players picked in that draft, including the Hall of Famers, Hanburger played in the most Pro Bowls, nine. And he was a primary starter on his team for 12 seasons, tied for second most in that draft class behind Pittsburgh tackle Tom Neville. Throughout this coming week until Saturday here and on my blog,, well take a look at some of Hanburgers highlight games, the ones that helped him get to the doorstep of football immortality. First, though, lets look at when he became a starter. From the pages of The Redskins Chronicle. October 22, 1965An 18th-round draft pick will be starting on Sunday for the Redskins. Chris Hanburger, a rookie linebacker out of North Carolina, will take over for 32-year-old Jim Carr as the Redskins take on the Cardinals in an attempt to gain their first win. He has been excellent every time we have put him in a game, said Coach Bill McPeak. He rates a start. While Hanburger is undersized at 218 pounds, he makes up for it with a fierce competitive nature and a nose for the football. He received some high praise from legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas. After observing Hanburger on film, Unitas said, He is big enough from what I saw. He can get bigger at his age (24 at the time). He earned his way into the starting lineup with aggressive play on special teams. And here is one of his first big games. It came in 1966, and you may recognize it as the highest-scoring game in NFL history. It wasnt as though Hanburgers sack and strip with Brig Owens returning the fumble 63 yards for a touchdown was pivotal in a game that the Redskins won by 31 points, but it was a look at big plays to come. Redskins 72, Giants 41
November 27, 1966
D. C. Stadium, Washington, D. C. The Redskins scored on offense, on defense, on special teams, on the ground and through the air in racking up the highest single-game scoring total ever in a regular season NFL game. In a losing effort, the Giants scored 41, making the combined total of 113 points another league record. It started off tamely enough when Brig Owens intercepted a pass by Giants quarterback Tom Kennedy, setting up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Sonny Jurgensen to A.D. Whitfield. It was the start of a career day for Whitfield, a backup running back, as he scored three touchdowns. His second one made it 13-0 (Charlie Gogolak had missed the extra point after the first TD) going into the second quarter. The Redskins racked up three more touchdowns before halftime. Chris Hanburger barreled into Kennedy, forcing a fumble that Owens recovered and returned 62 yards into the end zone. Whitfield and the player he backed up, Joe Don Looney, scored the other two. The Giants added two scores of their own and it was 34-14 at halftime. The third quarter was Charley Taylors time to shine. The receiver scored on Jurgensen touchdown passes of 32 and 74 yards. Jurgys passing line on the day belies the high scoring nature of the contest 10 of 16 for 145 yards. For his part, Taylor was glad to get on the board, having dropped a sure TD pass earlier in the game. The Giants matched Washingtons scoring in the third period with Gary Wood throwing a pair of touchdown passes of his own. That made it 48-28 going into the fourth quarter. The Redskins defense was certainly capable of blowing such a lead. But there were more points to be scored by the Redskins. Ricky Harris pushed the Redskins over the 50-point mark when he returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown. Then Owens stepped in front of a pass from Wood and went all the way with a 60-yard interception return. That touchdown broke the team record for most points scored in a game: the 59 they had scored against the Boston Yanks in 1948. The Giants scored two more touchdowns, pushing the total for both teams over 100 points. Just for fun, Otto Graham lined wide receiver Bobby Mitchell up at his old running back spot and Mitchell scooted 45 yards for the Redskins 10th and final touchdown of the day. To recap, they scored a touchdown almost every way you can: four running, three passing and one each on a punt, fumble and interception return. They also got nine extra points and a field goal. Oh, yes, the field goala very interesting sidebar to the game. Either thinking it was third down or just wanting to get the heck off the field, Kennedy threw the ball out of bounds on fourth down with nine seconds left. Gogolak trotted onto the field and kicked a 29-yard field goal. After the game, Redskins coach Otto Graham said that he just wanted to give Gogolak some practice. Some accounts said the players had pleaded with Graham to go for breaking 70 points. The best story, though, is that Sam Huff, still mad at the Giants for trading him two years earlier, yelled out Field goal team, field goal team himself in hopes that the unit would run on the field in the confusion and rub some salt in the Giants wounds. No matter why, the three points made the final 72-41. (Editors Note: About 11,000 NFL games have been played since this one and, despite rule changes designed to favor the offense and increase scoring, both the Redskins 72 points and the combined 113 still stand as NFL records.) You can reach Rich Tandler by email at and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Rich also writes about the Skins at