Hanson out to prove he can be the Lions' kicker for a 21st season

Posted Jan 10, 2012

Kicker Jason Hanson was around in the 1990s when making the playoffs was a regular occurrence for the Lions.

He was also on the team through the first decade of 2000 when the Lions were one of the historically bad franchises in sports.

Now in his third decade with the team, Hanson, 41, is witness to the transformation back into a consistent winner again.

"It's a good start after everything we've been through and I feel like there's a foundation here where we're going to be a team in the coming years that's going to stay like this," Hanson said. "But you have to prove it and so here we go, take a deep breath, and another offseason of getting better."

Hanson said he's treating this offseason like the previous 20 before it. He's going to train and prepare as if he'll be the team's kicker for a 21st consecutive season.

"I feel like I can still do it physically, so as long as they invite me back -- which I'm putting in a personal request that they do -- I'd like to do it," Hanson said with laugh Monday as the team cleaned out it's lockers. "I hopefully showed them I'm not as old as my hair and I can still do it."

Hanson was solid this season, converting 24 of his 29 field goal attempts. His .828 field-goal percentage was the ninth-best of his career. That's not bad considering he had three different holders during the course of the season and also had to overcome a cut to his right knee that required stitches.

"I showed my leg still works and it was a pretty good year," he said.

Hanson is the team's all-time leading scorer (2,016 points) and became only the sixth player in NFL history to reach 400 made field goals in a career.

A 50-yard field goal against the Chargers in Week 16 made him the first kicker in league history to have 50 50-yarders in a career.

While all those accomplishments are great, the fact still remains that Hanson will be 42 in June.

There have been a number of good kickers who have played well into there 40s. But at 42 at the time of camp, and entering the last year of his contract, Hanson will likely have to prove he belongs every season moving forward.

"Unfortunately, I'm just at the age where you're always suspicious. ‘Yeah, he made it through one year, but what about this year,'" he said. "So, I don't know what they're going to do. I wish it was the luxury of me saying ‘Hey, I'm coming back' and then it's just me, but that's never how it's going to be. I don't know what they're going to do but I'll be working to be the guy again."

Hanson had to beat out Dave Rayner for the job in training camp this season and the Lions will likely make him earn the job in camp again.

"I hopefully showed them that I know what I'm doing and, if healthy, I can do it," Hanson said. "But there is always competition."