Big Boys

May 22 is a birthday shared by two big Packer tackles from different eras: Tiny Cahoon and Hawg Hanner. The 235-pound Ivan Cahoon hailed from Baraboo, Wisconsin and played collegiately at Gonzaga. He was a regular for Green Bay from 1926-29 and scored a touchdown on a blocked punt in 1927. His playing career ended when he suffered a knee injury in 1929. He went into coaching and coached high school, college, semipro and service ball for the next quarter century. He died in 1973.

Dave Hanner was an institution in Green Bay. When he retired after a record 13 seasons in the Green and Gold, Hanner had played in more games, 160, than any other Packer. That game total has been exceeded several times in the ensuing 50 years, but the only other Packer with more years of service to the team than Hanner’s 44 (13 as a player, 16 as an assistant coach and 15 as a scout) is Tony Canadeo.

In fact, when Hanner arrived in Green Bay as a fifth round draft pick from Arkansas, it was Canadeo who tagged him with his familiar nickname, “Hawg,” an especially apt moniker for a beefy farmboy from Razorback country who worked his family’s cotton and soybean farm with mules. Hawg moved right into the starting lineup as a rookie and was named to the Pro Bowl after the 1953 and 1954 seasons; he drew All-Pro notice in 1957 and 1959. It wasn’t until 1959, though, that Hanner took on a more defined role and got to play for a winning team.

At 6’2” and 260 pounds, Hawg was a muscular run-stuffing mainstay for the Packers throughout the 1950s. Under Lombardi’s defensive coach Phil Bengtson, Hanner took on the selfless role of the stay-at-home lineman who protected up-the-field penetrators Willie Davis and Henry Jordan by sniffing out draws and screens. Davis told the Milwaukee Journal, “He was very seldom caught out of position or vulnerable. Dave was one of the most difficult guys to trap because he played so low, and he never exposed much to a blocker.” Hanner did accumulate at least 21 sacks of his own according to Webster and Turney.

Hanner was so dependable that the only game he missed in his first ten seasons was on September 24, 1961 against the 49ers and that was because he underwent an emergency appendectomy five days before. A week later, he was back on the field against the Bears. A year later on November 18, 1962, Hawg was honored before the game against the Colts by Dave Hanner Day at City Stadium. From the proceeds of a sale of “Hawg Hanner” buttons, fans presented Hanner with a new station wagon and tractor. At the time, Phil Bengtson said of his diligent tackle, “Dave has shown no signs of slowing up. He’s always been a good player, and he has the attitude to play the game the way it should be played.”

Ron Kostelnik began to take over for Hanner in 1964, but Hawg reported to training camp in 1965 and did not retire until a week before the season. He declined an offer from the Rams to play for them that year and instead joined the Packers’ coaching staff, where he would stay until 1980 when Bart Starr fired him as part of a move to the 3-4 defense. Hanner was hired back as a scout a year later. A chaw of Red Man tobacco perennially in his cheek, Hanner was a class act for the Packers’ organization. Not a Hall of Famer, he was definitely Hall of Very Good.

(Hanner text adapted from Green Bay Gold.)

1929ctcahoon  1953bdhanner2

1961tdhanner2  1961fdhanner4

1963tdhanner2  1964pdhanner2

Custom cards of Cahoon and the 1953 Bowman and 1961 Topps ones of Hanner are colorized.

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