Merton Hanks
No. 36
Personal information
Born: (1968-03-12) March 12, 1968 (age 55)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:181 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school:Lake Highlands (Dallas)
NFL draft:1991 / Round: 5 / Pick: 122
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
INT yards:410
Player stats at · PFR

Merton Edward Hanks (born March 12, 1968) is an American former professional football player who was a safety for nine seasons in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1990s, primarily with the San Francisco 49ers.[1] He was a five-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection with the 49ers, winning a Super Bowl (XXIX) with the team.

Hanks played college football for the Iowa Hawkeyes, earning All-American honors in 1990. He played eight seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and one with the Seattle Seahawks. He is currently a senior associate commissioner for the Pac-12.[2]

College career

Hanks attended Lake Highlands High School, where he was a district track-and-field champion. He attended the University of Iowa, earning all-Big Ten honors at cornerback. However, at the NFL scouting combine, his 40-yard dash times were very slow, and he was not drafted until the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers.[3]

Professional career

Despite his low selection, Hanks was selected to four Pro Bowl and three All-Pro teams. He was well-known for his interceptions and returns, as well as his unique "chicken dance" celebrations that were later emulated by basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.[4][5] He was a member of the 1994 San Francisco team that won Super Bowl XXIX. Hanks finished his career with the Seattle Seahawks, retiring in 1999.

Executive career

Hanks was previously the assistant director of operations for the National Football League, and then the league's vice president of operations in charge of player conduct.[6] Hanks began his tenure as Conference USA senior associate commissioner in July 2016, a position in which he was responsible for the conference’s football and baseball operations, including officiating, scheduling, game operations, player conduct and safety.[7] On September 8, 2020, Hanks became the senior associate commissioner, football operations for the Pac-12 conference.

Hanks regularly embarks on speaking tours.[8]


  1. ^ "Merton Hanks". National Football League. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  2. ^ "Pac-12 tabs ex-NFL star Hanks to run football ops". August 20, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "1991 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  4. ^ Gwen Knapp (December 21, 1997). "Dances with Hanks". Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  5. ^ "While the spotlight shines mostly on Kobe and Shaq, it's - 12.01.97 - SI Vault". October 29, 2013. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  6. ^ Smith, Michael David (October 19, 2013). "Merton Hanks: I fined Ndamukong Suh to get his attention". Pro Football Talk. NBC Sports. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  7. ^ "Conference USA - Staff Directory". Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  8. ^ "Hawkeye Sports News: Where are they now? Merton Hanks". July 11, 2011. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2021.