"Thunderfoot": The Ballad of Lions Kicker Jason Hanson

Sherman L. McCleskyCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2008

This is the Ballad of Jason "Thunderfoot" Hanson. I request that you sing the following bold printing while reading. (Ref: It's a parody of "The Song of Jerimiah Johnson.")

"Jason Hanson is going into the Hall of Fame
Bettin' on forgettin' all the troubles that he knew."

Jason Hanson was born June 17, 1970 in Spokane, Washington. As he grew up, little did he knew that he would live both a life of fame and infamy. This is his story... 

"The trail was wide and narrow
And the eagle or the sparrow
Showed the path he was to follow as they flew."

Jason went to Mead Senior High school with the intention of playing soccer, but his friends insisted that he should try out for football; he agreed and tried out for the team. He gave it a try at many positions; but to no surprise, he felt comfortable at the only position he could relate to his soccer skills...kicking.

"I kicked right away. I tried some other positions but my teammates had been playing for years so I was too far behind. Instead, I just concentrated on kicking the football. My junior year was great and I had a lot of interest from colleges. It looked like I might have a future in the sport.

"But then I played really badly in my senior year and most of the interest dropped. I was accepted at Stanford University and the team said they were going to sign me. But I never heard from them again.

"As it turned out, one of my few remaining college options was in my home state of Washington at Washington State University. It was only 1-1/2 hours away and wasn’t even on my radar screen. But by the end of the process it just so happened that I had lots of academic scholarships there. And they were fairly interested in me playing football for them. So I decided to stay in-state."

"A football kicker is a lonely man
And he leaves a life behind
It ought to have been different, but of times you will find,
That the story doesn't always go that way you had in mind.
Jason Hanson's story was that kind...
Jason Hanson's story was that kind."

Nicknamed "Thunderfoot" while at WSU, Hanson holds the record for most field goals from 50 yards or more (20), and 40 yards or more (39). His school records include most points scored (328), most games with two or more field goals (20), field goals (63), and PATs (139). In addition to his placekicking duties he also punted, and was named as an All-American by ESPN in his junior year.

Hanson was selected in the second round (56th overall) of the 1992 NFL draft by the Lions, for whom he still plays today. No other currently active NFL kicker has been with the same team as long as Hanson.

He is currently the longest-tenured active player with one team in the NFL. With the recent trade of Brett Favre, as well as the recent retirement of Michael Strahan, Hanson is the last player to have played for the same team they currently play for before the start of free agency and the salary cap in the NFL.

"A reporter says you search in vain for what you cannot find.
He says you'll find a thousand ways for runnin' down your time.
A reporter didn't scream it, he said it in a song,
And he's never been known to be wrong.
He's never been known to be wrong."

For 15 years, Jason Hanson had kicked for the Detroit Lions, with no hopes of making a Super Bowl winning kick. He did show frustration at times, when asked about the Lions' losing ways.

Somehow, he manages to show great humility in creating his legendary "they stink" campaign, in which he would end every question concerning the status of the team with either "they stink" (in response to a loss), or "they still stink" (in a response to a win).

In my opinion, when you hear "they stink" coming from him, it seems as if he is still proud to be a Detroit Lion. Like a mother of a convicted felon, Jason Hanson doesn't like what's happening to his team right now, but he never stopped loving the team anyway. Unconditional love for a team is hard to find these days.    

"The way that you wander is the way that you choose,
The day that you tarry is the day that you lose.
Sunshine or thunder, this kicker will always wonder.
Where the fair wind blows."

So what I think of the eighth highest scorer in NFL history and the current NFL and NCAA record holder of field goals beyond 50 yards? I think that he is the greatest role model currently available for any NFL rookie.

Jason Hanson's Christian beliefs, concerning the issue of commitment, may had been the reason why he never left the Detroit Lions. Nobody would had blamed him, had he chosen to leave, but he didn't. You can call him a fool for staying, but I won't.

To see him still take pride, in being a Lion this season, is the stuff of which legends are made of. His dedication should be made into a moral standard for others to emulate; not just in the NFL, but in life, as well.

There are two games left for Detroit Lions; one against the New Orleans Saints, the other against the Green Bay Packers. Should the Detroit Lions lose both games, they will become the first team, in NFL history, to lose every regular season game.

But you know what? I have this weird feeling that an announcer will make this call, in one of those two games...

"Three seconds left. Jason Hanson is lining up a 54-yarder for the win...THE SNAP IS UP!!! THE KICK IS OFF!!! IT HAS THE DISTANCE!!! AND IT'S..."   

Good luck, "Thunderfoot"!!!

"Jason Hanson is going into the Hall of Fame. Bettin' on forgettin' all the troubles that he knew. Bettin' on forgettin' all the troubles that he knew."

I credit the following links for providing my excerpts...