Hank F. Fraley was born on Sept. 21, 1977, in Gaithersburg, Md. He attended Gaithersburg High School where, as a senior in 1995, he helped his football team, the Trojans, make it to the Maryland state championship game.
Fraley studied social science at RMU and had a successful football career as a non-scholarship player, playing left tackle. He is still one of only two Colonials to have his number (75) retired.
In April 2000, Fraley was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was put on waivers later that August. He was claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles shortly thereafter and had six successful seasons with the team. Then, in Sept. 2006, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns, where he remains today as the team’s starting center.
Fraley and his wife, Danielle, reside in Woolwich Township, N.J., and have three sons together: Mason, Travis and Beau. Fraley’s oldest son, Trent, currently lives in Moon Twp.
What’s the toughest part about playing center in the NFL?
Making sure your line calls and I.D.’s are correct. You have to study a lot of film and really get into your playbooks. Each play has a different I.D. When you figure out what it is, it tells the whole line what to do, as well as your quarterback, running backs and tight-end, who are all listening for the call.
Who’s your favorite NFL center of all time?
My favorite NFL center would have to be Dermontti Dawson, who, as most people know, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was just so good at what he did. I wish I was half as talented as he was. He was a big guy, but he could really move and run. He could do stuff that most centers could never do.
What’s it really like down there in the “trenches?”
I won’t lie, it’s tough down there. Whether it’s in practice or in the games, you’re always banging heads. It’s like being in a small car wreck 60 times a game. Basically, you’re fighting your tail off. Down there, you do whatever it takes, as long as it’s within the rules, of course.
What’s on your iPod right now?
A lot of country music. But my favorite country music artist changes everyday, so I really don’t have a favorite.
Do you have any pets?
We have two chocolate labs, Brandy and Coconut; one German shepherd, Jager; one pug, Emmie, one English bulldog, Rodeo, which is really my wife’s; and we also have a cat, Star. So, yeah, I guess you can say we’re pet lovers.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like the outdoors, and I do a lot of fishing and hunting. I own a 34-foot fishing boat that’s currently docked in Lake Erie, but I also like to take it out in the ocean when we’re back in New Jersey. I also like to ride 4-wheelers with my sons. My wife and I both have our own Harleys – she rides a Deluxe, and I ride a Fat Boy. I also enjoy golfing and playing poker.
What’s your all-time favorite movie quote?
My favorite quote is in “Animal House” when Bluto, played by John Belushi, makes his famous speech about “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
If you weren’t an NFL player, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be coaching or teaching social studies in school. I definitely see myself coaching one day, either in the NFL or on the college level – maybe even at RMU. I would also love to coach my boys in whatever sport they decide to play.
What do you miss the most about RMU?
It would have to be the college life. It was so much more laid back, and you didn’t have as much responsibility. Then, once you graduate, you have to deal with the real world and all the bills that most of us didn’t have because are parents took care of them. I was fortunate to have such a great job when I left RMU.
What was your favorite part about Robert Morris University?
Now we’re really starting to go back a long time ago. I guess, most of all, I liked how everyone knew everyone. My professors were great, too, especially Dr. Charles Zimmerman (Professor of Mathematics), who was a big influence on me. Of course, there were many more as well. I definitely have a lot of great memories about RMU.