Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah, a broker with First Union Securities, replaced the thrill of sports with the excitement of the stock market.
His face once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated accompanied with the headline, "The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time." Behind the bars on the face mask of his New England Patriots' helmet, his eyes were cold and steely.
"That was all an act," John Hannah says, with a laugh today. The magazine's Aug. 3, 1981, cover story depicted him as the meanest lineman in the National Football League.
What wasn't an act was the hopeless look of defeat that Hannah wore Jan. 26, 1986, when the Patriots were hammered by the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX, 46-10. The 46 points established a Super Bowl record at the time. So was the total of seven yards rushing the Patriots' offense generated against the impenetrable Chicago defense.
"That game," Hannah says, "was the ultimate embarrassment."
Actually, the entire Super Bowl experience was more of a disaster than a memorable adventure for Hannah.
"It was awful," he says. "It's so commercial that you couldn't get in the right frame of mind to play the game. It's just too much Hollywood."
The Super Bowl was the final game of Hannah's illustrious 12-year career and the beginning of his full-time gig as a stockbroker. Hannah, nicknamed "Hog" because of his massive 6-foot-3-inch, 265-pound body, doesn't miss football at all.
He doesn't even follow the sport. When there's seemingly nothing on television but NFL games, you won't find Hannah cheering every touchdown pass. Instead, he's with his children or working.
Yet without football, Hannah might not be a broker. When the Patriots selected Hannah with the fourth overall pick in the 1973 NFL draft, his salary was 30,000 dollars. After the competing United States Football League and World Football League were established, salaries of NFL players skyrocketed. Hannah suddenly found himself making six times more.
He didn't have any idea how to maximize his earnings, so he attended a financial seminar and became hooked on stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Each off-season, he learned more about the industry. The year before he retired, he joined L.F. Rothchild after the football season ended. He later created The Hannah Group, which he sold to Advest Inc. Then he joined First Union Securities in Boston.
For years, Hannah assumed he would enter his family's agricultural business in Alabama. He also thought he'd be involved in coaching on the pro or college level. "But the brokerage business offered the most satisfaction to me," he says.
Hannah's name is magical in Boston, right up on the city's sports marquee with Larry Bird of theCeltics, Bobby Orr of the Bruins and Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox, three of New England's most celebrated athletes. But Hannah's name alone doesn't reel in clients. His knowledge sells them.
"My philosophy has been to participate and keep up with an up market but preserve capital in a down market," Hannah says. "If you can control risk, you'll outperform the market over time."