John Flannery was a multifaceted offensive lineman for the Syracuse Orangemen during the late 1980s. He played guard his rookie season and then shifted quickly towards center by his senior year, cementing his legacy as the college’s best snapper since Doug Marrone. The Syracuse offensive line was considered the best in the nation, and Flannery was considered the best of the bunch, helping the school challenge for the national title in 1987. At 6’4″, 304, John had the tools to excel at the next level, and an eye popping combine that helped cement his draft status running a 4.98 40. A decorated lineman, he received All-American honors in both 1990 and 1991 and was co-captain of the team, finishing as a semi-finalist for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies for the nation’s best lineman. As an added bonus he could play on special teams as a long snapper.
A solid prospect coming out of college, Flannery parlayed an excellent Senior Bowl game into becoming a second round choice of the Houston Oilers in 1991. Later in the 3rd round, Houston selected Kevin Donnalley as well. This draft actually proved to be a fairly solid one for the Oilers, with Darryll Lewis, Steve Jackson, Marcus Robertson, Gary Brown, Shawn Jefferson, Gary Wellman, and Mike Dumas– all seeing significant playing time and decent careers in the league. The Oilers were very deep on the line, but with the declining health of Dean Steinkuhler and Mike Munchak, there was always room for depth, so both Flannery and Donnalley made the team as well. Flannery drew the unenviable opening day task and trial by fire of blocking Los Angeles Raiders’ defensive end Howie Long. John in the end performed well limiting him to only 2 tackles, while opening up running lanes for both Allen Pinkett and Gary Brown. He started 8 games for the team that year, as Bruce Matthews moved to center to cover for Doug Dawson. For his efforts, Flannery earned All-Rookie team honors that season.
A knee injury sidelined Flannery for the entire 1993 season, but he came back and started the entire 1994 campaign for the team, replacing retired Mike Munchak. As the salary cap ratcheted up on the Oilers in 1995, the team cut many players in order to stay afloat. In order to keep Bruce Matthews in the mix, John and his 900k salary was cut. Flannery signed with the Green Bay Packers, over the Jaguars, where he was expected to start at left guard- but a failed physical due to his knee injury, sent him packing back to Houston for more rehab and another medical opinion. Given a clean bill of health, John signed as an UFA with the Dallas Cowboys in 1996. The team decided to roll with Flannery at right guard, (allowing the team to shift Larry Allen from guard to tackle,) but injuries limited John to 1 game. Returning in 1997, he started 4 games for the Cowboys. 1998 saw John make one final change of scenery, as he moved to St. Louis to play center for the Rams. In that final season he’d start 15 games for the team and make his first and only reception for 2 yards. After tearing his ACL in training camp in 1999, John finally decided to hang up his cleats.
He currently lives in Houston as where he works in the oil industry as an estimator. He kindly signed these cards for me care of the Syracuse alumni association. While John is not the most recognizable of names, he did have a fairly long, respectable, and battle scarred campaign in the NFL.