No player spent more time playing for one owner than former Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson did playing for William Clay Ford.
Hanson was drafted in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft and spent his entire 21-year playing career with the team. In fact, he holds the NFL record for most games played (327) with one team.
Hanson took time Monday to reflect on the passing of Mr. Ford.
“I don’t know the actual statistic but it has to be close to as long as any player has ever spent with a single owner,” Hanson said. “That’s special. Just seeing some of the photos and memories, you know, it’s amazing how much history and how many memories there are.
“And so, just to be able to say that it was special, I’m very privileged to have known Mr. Ford and, of course, Mrs. Ford and the whole family.
Hanson holds every significant franchise record for kicking and was inducted into the Lions “Ring of Honor” at Ford Field last year.
Hanson said he couldn’t help but feel a little guilty when hearing the news of Mr. Ford’s passing.
“I’ve heard guys say this – that everyone that has played for the Lions for a significant amount of time, that had some investment with the team, has some guilt,” Hanson said of the team not winning a title in Mr. Ford’s tenure as owner. “I share that immensely that we were not able to be part of a team that brought him a championship.
“I think every player feels that and it’s genuine. It’s not just I feel bad for me and for the guys. We feel bad for Mr. Ford and the Ford family for something that they deserve.”
When reflecting on his former boss and friend in a conference call Monday, Hanson said more than anything Mr. Ford liked people, treated everyone the same and just wanted to be one of the guys.
“I remember early in my career he came up to me after a win and was congratulating me and the other guys and was just so friendly,” he said. “He immediately started asking me about my golf game.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’m so scared to death to answer this question because I don’t want him to think that I’m golfing during the season.’ I didn’t know what to do. But he was genuinely interested and it was a genuine question. It was a real conversation because he was interested about the guys on his team. We weren’t products. We weren’t products to him. We were people.”