Monday night was not only monumental because it was the first Lions Monday night game in a decade. It also marked kicker Jason Hanson’s 300th career game with Detroit, making him the only player to play 300 games with a single team.
Since being drafted in 1992 (while I was in diapers), Hanson has put together an amazing career that now makes him the longest tenured Lion in team history.
Hanson has been a bright spot in the Lions organization for 20 years now, and holds every kicking record the Lions keep track of. His résumé includes two pro bowls, 1,941 points, a career field goal percentage of 82.26, and an NFL record 47 boots from 50 or more yards.
Kickers are often remembered for their ability to deliver in clutch situations, and Hanson will certainly go down as one of the best. Hanson has delivered the game winner 17 times in his career, including nine in overtime. To put that in perspective, the Lions have 18 wins in the last five seasons, not including this year.
Despite playing for an absolutely abysmal team for the vast majority of his
career, (two playoff appearances in 20 years is pretty bad by my standards) Hanson has moved his way up to seventh place on the NFL all-time scoring list, and is first among active players.
Anybody who has a brain will tell you that Barry Sanders is without a doubt the greatest player ever to wear the Honolulu blue, if not the greatest ever to play the game. But who is second on the list of greatest Lions? In my opinion, that spot belongs to Jason Hanson.
The numbers are clear that Hanson is a Hall of Fame shoe-in, and Hanson has been the only player that Lions fans have been able to consistently rely on during all these years of losing. Despite lackluster offenses and mediocre at best defenses, the Lions have always had a great kicking game during Hanson’s career, and it is about time he got some credit.
The city of Detroit honored Hanson during Monday night’s game, and the record crowd gave him a huge cheer, making it clear that Hanson will go down as one of the most beloved Lions in team history.
Although guys like Herman Moore and Dick “Night Train” Lane will always have their place in Lions’ history, it is Hanson that belongs at the top with Sanders. Hanson will be the last Lion to wear the number four, and it is only a matter of time before his name is enshrined in Ford Field.
Kickers will be underappreciated until people stop playing football, and it’s time we honor one for a change.
We appreciate you Jason.