Jason Hanson Deserves Consideration for the Hall of Fame
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on Yahoo! Voices, Thursday, January 16, 2014
Former Detroit Lions placekicker Jason Hanson had an amazing 21-year career in the National Football League from 1992-2012. He was the one player the team could always count on for over two decades and whose skills remained at a high level right to the very end. Any Lions fan will tell you that he definitely deserves to be considered for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One unique aspect of his career is the fact that he spent his entire career with the same team. That alone should be reason enough for some kind of award in my mind. While other players, coaches and front office personnel came and went, Hanson remained the lone constant on the Lions roster and the fans loved him.
Hanson was selected by Detroit in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Washington State where he was a Consensus All-American in 1989. He was also a two-time NFL Pro Bowler in 1997 and 1999. He was inducted into the Lions Ring of Honor at Ford Field in 2013, the year after he retired.
According to the web site www.pro-football-reference.com, Hanson played in 327 regular season games which places him fifth on the all-time list of games played in the NFL. He accounted for 2,150 points (third all-time), with 495 field goals and 665 extra points. He made an NFL record 52 field goals over 50 yards including 10 in his last three seasons (three in 2010, five in 2011 and two in 2012). He made a total of eight 50 yard field goals in 2008 alone, his 17th season. Clearly, he was still at the top of his game even as his career was winding down at the age of 42.
Not an Easy Road to Canton
The Pro Football Hall of Fame web site (www.profootballhof.com) lists just three names under the category of "Placekickers" who are enshrined; Jan Stenerud, George Blanda and Lou "The Toe" Groza. Let's see how Hansen stacks up against these current Hall of Famers;
Blanda played in the NFL as well as the American Football League for a total of 26 years from 1949-1975 and was a quarterback for many years as well as a kicker. Groza played for 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns from 1946-1959, 1961-1967. He was also an offensive tackle for 13 years and a center for another.
Currently, Stenerud is the only true kicker enshrined in Canton. He had a 19-year career in the NFL from 1967-1985 and played for three teams; Packers, Vikings and Chiefs. Stenerud was enshrined in 1991. He scored 1,699 career points and had 16 field goals of over 50 yards.
Kickers have been overlooked by Hall of Fame voters for far too long, which in my opinion is just wrong. However, they have a chance to correct some of that beginning this year.
This year, placekicker Morten Andersen is on the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. He is number one in games played (382), points scored (2,544) and total field goals made (565). He has 40 field goals over 50 yards and is also number two in extra points made (849) behind Blanda. Andersen played for five different teams (Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs and Vikings) during a 26-year career from 1982-2004, 2006-2007. Andersen was a semi-finalist for the Hall of Fame last year also.
Punter Ray Guy of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders is also one of the 15 finalists this year. He had a 14-year NFL career (1973-1986) and is one of two senior nominees. He has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame seven times before. Guy was selected to seven Pro Bowls and had 1,049 punts for 44,493 yards. He led the league in average yards per punt three times; 1974, 1975 and 1977. Currently, there are no punters in the Hall of Fame.
Andersen and Guy are both deserving of spots in Canton in my opinion. Why they have not been voted in before now is a mystery to me.
If any recent kicker in the NFL deserves to be considered for the Hall of Fame, it is Hanson. His numbers are comparable, if not superior, to those already in the Hall. Hopefully, by the time Hanson is eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame, the notion of kickers and punters having a bust in Canton will not be such a foreign concept.
Hanson may not be eligible to be voted into the Hall until 2017, but it's never too early to begin the campaign.