For years I've wanted to buy my Dad a John Hannah jersey. Hannah, a Hall of Fame guard for the New England Patriots in the late 70's and early 80's, was, in my father's refrain, "the GREATEST. EVER. TO PLAY. THE GAME." Mention his name around my Dad, and that's how the speech will start. It will usually end with a statement about how "none of these guys today could even carry his jock."
This reverence for John Hannah stems from his overarching belief in the supremacy of linemen, particularly offensive linemen. Another frequent phrase of my father's is "the so-called skill positions." He played quarterback in high school and coached offensive line. You could say he's naturally biased.
Much as I wanted him to be able to proudly display No. 73 at Gillette, John Hannah's jersey is pretty much only available in authentic replica throwback. Authentic replica throwback jerseys tend to be, as we say in the trades, freakin' expensive. It was always out of my reach.
Then, a couple of weeks ago I was approached by a rep from an online sports memorabilia company about advertising on this blog*. (That would be his link under 'Resources' on the right.) We haggled over the price, and then he offered instead to pay in sports memorabilia. I was skeptical at first, thinking it was going to be an item he'd selected. Instead, he told me to go to this site and select any items that totaled below a certain amount.
And there it was.
My Dad opened it as the last of his presents Christmas morning, and it was all I could do not to blurt out what it was before he got the chance. As he unwrapped, I waited with camera poised.
"No!" he said in disbelief as he pulled the crisp new jersy out of the box. "No!! You didn't!"
But wait. There was more. The jersey had been on sale for the holidays, and there was still room left under my cap for another item: an autographed 8 x 10 photo of John Hannah, which I thought could serve as a convenient visual aid during the Hannah Speech.
At least for a moment or two after opening it, my Dad was without speech of any kind: