One day last July during training camp, Jason Hanson was one of the Lions chosen to speak to the media from the podium.
Just before he arrived, I told one of the media interns that Hanson was a riot, the stand-up comedian of NFL place kickers.
That day he started out slow, then pulled out the dry wit as he usually did. Seems he was having a hard time with Derek Dimke, the other kicker at camp. Dimke was 1 years old when Hanson was drafted by the Lions in 1992.
“The first couple of days he kept calling me sir and I was getting really irritated with that. I was like ‘dude knock it off,’ Because I think he actually meant it, I was reading his eyes like is he kidding, he’s not,’’ Hanson said. “Don’t call me that. Once we got that settled, we were fine.
“So I started wearing my hat again so you can’t see my bald head,’’ Hanson added.
He will be missed by the fans, his teammates and coaches and, yes, even the media.
Hanson was not just a stand-up comedian, but also a stand-up guy.
As a sports writer for 24 years covering all sports at pro and college level, Hanson is one of the classiest guys I’ve ever dealt with. Not only a future Hall of Fame kicker, Hanson is a good person and family man.
He was also a competitor. It wore him down that 11 of his last 12 seasons the Lions didn’t have a winning record.
Hanson was nearly automatic on field goals. In his career he connected on 87.2 percent of field goal attempts inside the 50-yard line and 95.3 percent from inside the 30-yard line.
He’s the NFL’s all-time record holder for career 50-yard field goals with 52. The list of records and accomplishments goes on and on.
One of my favorite statistics is that he had 36 career special teams tackles.
Hanson was drafted in the second round in 1992 out of Washington State where he earned a degree in zoology. He was thinking of going on to medical school, then a 21-year NFL career got in the way.
He was a survivor and it was because he never let up, worked hard and always had that fire in his belly.
When the roster was overturned before the 2010 season, the bald kicker was mistaken by a new player for a coach.
Certainly it didn’t take long to realize exactly who Hanson was.
He was a two-time Pro Bowler, a leader and a shining example for any NFL player.
It won’t be the same without No. 4 on the roster.
Jason Hanson will be missed.