Whiz passes a mentor

Posted by Darren Urban on November 28, 2011 – 7:02 pm

When Ken Whisenhunt was playing in the NFL, Jim Hanifan was one of his coaches. The two were close, and Hanifan liked to tell his big H-back, “Someday, you’ll wind up the Governor of the state of Georgia.”

“I knew he’d be a tremendous success in whatever he did,” Hanifan said Sunday, when he just so happened to be at the same game as Whisenhunt. Hanifan, in fact, was one of the most successful head coaches in Cardinals’ franchise history, totaling 39 wins from 1980-85. It was coincidence, of course – Hanifan was taking part in the Cards’ annual alumni reunion every time they have a road trip in St. Louis – but Whisenhunt’s win against the Rams broke his tie with Hanifan on the team’s all-time wins list. Whisenhunt now has 40 victories.

Whisenhunt wasn’t much in the mood — with a 4-7 record — to be talking about his place on the wins list. Don Coryell is the franchise’s all-time leader with 42, and the Cards have five games remaining.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought about that,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re not doing what we want to do record-wise, and that’s what’s more important to me. I feel very lucky to have this group of men and be in this town with our fans, and I know it’s been a tough year for all of us, but that’s something to talk about another day. I’m not really too concerned about that right now.”

Hanifan said he was “proud” of the work Whisenhunt had done at coach and was happy to be passed on the wins chart by his former student.

“It’s funny,” Whisenhunt said. “I am glad I got a chance to see him on the field before the game. I know he is happy about that and it was ironic, but also kind of special.”

As for the politics, Whisenhunt said he’d probably pass, although he chuckled at the memory of Hanifan’s predictions once upon a time.

“I think he said that because he felt sorry for me because I had to do all those wham blocks, lead blocking on the nose tackles,” Whisenhunt said. “He was a very good coach who really helped me in my career and it means a lot to me he would say those kinds of things. You look at people who have influenced you in your career and he was certainly one of those.”

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