I’m biased when it comes to Lions kicker Jason Hanson. He’s the only player left on the team from my days in Michigan. Considering how long ago that was, I allow myself some room for nostalgia.
I agree with observers who say he’ll be challenged in training camp to earn his spot on the 2012 roster. Coming up on 42 years of age, Hanson himself knows he’ll have competition and is in defy-the-odds territory, even for place kickers.
Scrolling down the NFL player stats for Hanson, you see one nearly uninterrupted figure from year to year: 16. Sixteen games played per year, with the exception of 2005, when he missed one game, and 2010, when he was out for eight games and placed on injured reserve in December of that year.
He became the first kicker in NFL history to make 50 field goals of 50 yards or more—in 2011, his 20th season in the NFL, with the Lions. All the better, Hanson expresses zero doubt about his durability. Is he still valuable? I think so.
There’s something to be said for hanging with a team through the adversity the Lions have faced, and now overcome. It’s pleasing to see that Hanson has come out the other side to experience a winning season again and that he has a legitimate prospect of keeping his spot on the roster for another season or more. Of course, as nice as it is to reward past productivity and continued loyalty, Hanson must execute consistently or be replaced, if for no other reason than it’ll be too painful to watch him struggle.
There’s also something to be said for continuity. Even if Hanson is a bridge to an uncomfortable past, what better ambassador could you ask for to walk you into the future?