American Football Database
American Football Database
Date of birth: (1907-11-10)November 10, 1907
Place of birth: Navesink, New Jersey, U.S.
Date of death: August 5, 1970(1970-08-05) (aged 62)
Place of death: Philadelphia
Career information
Position(s): Halfback
High school: Leonardo
(Middletown Township, New Jersey)
Playing stats at

Thomas Tucker "Swede" Hanson (November 10, 1907 – August 5, 1970) was an American football halfback in the National Football League mainly for the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom he caught the first touchdown in franchise history. He played college football at Temple University.

Born and raised in the Navesink section of Middletown Township, New Jersey, Hanson attended Leonardo High School (which currently is known as Middletown High School North), where he started playing varsity level high school athletics while he was in the seventh grade; he would also play both baseball and basketball in high school. As a sophomore in the 1925 season, Hanson led Leonardo High School to the school's first state championship, finishing the regular season with an 8-0 record, until they lost the postseason Class B playoff championship game by a score of 20-0 played in front of 3,000 fans at Rutgers University against a Rahway High School team that had been undefeated for three consecutive seasons.[1][2] As a junior in 1926, Hanson was part of the Leonardo team that won its second consecutive state title, with wins that included a 40-0 victory against Rahway that ended the school's win streak.[1]

At Temple University, Hanson scored the winning touchdown on a 76-yard punt return to lead the team to a 7-6 victory against heavily favored Bucknell College, tackling future Hall-of-Famer Clarke Hinkle late in the game to preserve the win.[1] Hanson scored 80 points as a running back for the Owls during the 1927 season, including four touchdowns and four extra points he scored in a single game that Temple won by a score of 110-0 against Blue Ridge College; Temple led Blue Ridge by a score of 78-0 at halftime and loaned three players to the losing side during the second half, when quarters were shortened to five minutes.[3][4] Hanson also competed in intercollegiate boxing at Temple.[5]

Hanson went professional in 1931, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, before moving over to the Staten Island Stapletons for the next season. Bert Bell took over the bankrupt Stapletons and relocated the franchise to Philadelphia in 1933. On October 29, 1933, Hanson scored the first touchdown in Eagles franchise history in Green Bay against the Packers on a 35-yard pass from Roger Randolph "Red" Kirkman. Hanson led the Eagles in rushing during the 1933-1936 seasons and finished second in the league in 1934 to Beattie Feathers. Traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938, he was a teammate of Byron White, who woul later serve as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.[1]

After leaving football, he worked as a mechanic at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.[1] Hanson died in Philadelphia at the age of 62 at Einstein Medical Center and was survived by his wife, Delores.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Edelson, Stephen. "The legend of Swede Hanson, among the Shore's greatest", Asbury Park Press, April 9, 2015. Accessed July 26, 2018. "It all started innocently enough in the late 1980s when they began brainstorming a Lions Hall of Fame for Middletown North High School, the former Leonardo High School.... Growing up in Navesink, the oldest Hanson brother, Joseph, played on the first official Leonardo football team in 1919. Swede, who had a twin brother, Henry, began playing high school sports in 1922, when he was just in seventh grade."
  2. "Rahway High Beats Leonardo For Title; Wins Class B New Jersey Football Honors, 20-0, on Rutgers Field Before 3,000.", The New York Times, December 6, 1925. Accessed July 26, 2018. "Rahway High School won the Class B football championship of New Jersey here this afternoon by virtue of a 20-to-0 victory over Leonardo High School. The game was played on the Rutgers Athletic Field and was witnessed by 3,000 persons, mostly followers of the contending schools, who were treated to a remarkably good exhibition of football in spite of rain, fog and a mud-covered gridiron."
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Swede Hanson, Star Back Of Philadelphia Eagles. 62", The New York Times, August 7, 1970. Accessed July 26, 2018. "Thomas (Swede) Hanson, a former Temple University foot ball star who played profession ally for eight years with the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Brooklyn Dodgers, died yesterday at Einstein Medical Center here. He was 62 years old."
  4. "Temple Team Buries Blue Ridge, 110 TO 0; Losers Borrow Three Temple Players in Last Period -- Hanson Game's Star.", The New York Times, October 2, 1927. Accessed July 26, 2018. "Despite the hot weather and shortening of periods to five minutes in the last half, Temple University today opened its football season by swamping Blue Ridge College, 110 to 0. This is one of the biggest scores ever run up in a college game here.... Swede Hanson of Long Branch, N. J., was the star with four touchdowns and as many points after touchdowns."
  5. "Temple Boxes Beat Fordham By 5 TO 2; Horwatt and Hanson Stop Their Respective Maroon Opponents In First Round.", The New York Times, February 11, 1928. Accessed July 25, 2018. "Heavyweight Class - Swede Hanson, temple, knocked out Bud Conley in the first round."

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