Entering 21st Year, Hanson's Still Got It

Long-time Detroit Lions placekicker Jason Hanson still has the leg to not only kick accurately, but with distance.

Jason Hanson is entering his 21st year in the NFL. All with one team – the Detroit Lions.

That’s an incredible feat.

During a team walk through this week, Nate Burleson, a veteran in his own right and 22-year-old Titus Young were attempting to grasp the fact that Burleson had played in the NFL for a decade.

As the two receivers marveled at the quick passage of time as well as the incredible accomplishment of seeing double-digit years in the NFL, they caught a glance of Hanson jogging by.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Burleson of Hanson’s NFL tenure. “The one thing that you can say that keeps him in the game is his consistency. Consistency trumps all. Whether it’s youth, money, whatever comes in to compete with him, the consistency keeps him around.”

Evidence of Hanson’s consistency is represented by the fact that he’s converted at least 80 percent of his field goal attempts in 13 of his 20 seasons, with only three seasons dipping below 75 percent.

Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that he continues to be effective from long range, hitting five of his seven attempts from 50-plus yards a year ago and three of four the year prior.

Hanson’s range is something that he takes pride in. But why does Hanson value his range so much, knowing that accurate kickers can serve in a specialty role in the NFL – handling only attempts below a certain yardage limit?

“Because I’d rather have them cut me then have me do that,” said Hanson. “That’s my attitude, if it came to that, I don’t know, maybe I’d say I could still kick under 45. I don’t want any part of that. My goal is, that if I’m going to play, to show up and have them say ‘he’s the same’. If ever that day comes and It’s not, then maybe I’ll be fishing in the fall but it’s not going to be this year.”

Hanson feels as if he can still contribute to the team’s success and be effective from any reasonable range on the field.

More importantly, his coaches believe it too.

“Incredibly durable and reliable kicker that’s gone through a long time,” said head coach Jim Schwartz. “We have confidence in whenever we put him on the field.”

Hanson admitted he’s less inclined to sneak a 65-yard field goal at the end of practice, as he used to do years ago but he also hinted that 60-yard field goal attempts wouldn’t be an unrealistic proposition if the opportunity were to arise.

One thing Hanson wouldn’t speculate on was his future.

No one knows if Hanson will be back in 2013 but he’ll be here for 2012.

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