Killer: Hanson's stellar career "wasted" on Lions

Friday, July 24, 2009

Add kicker Jason Hanson to the list of great talent the Lions wasted over many years of losing, playoff-free seasons, writes Tom Kowalski at

Kickers are frequently an afterthought, but most Lions fans have a healthy appreciation for just how good Hanson has been. But Killer points out it's not just his steady, long career that deserves accolades, but what he's done for us lately:

Hanson became the only player in league history to hit eight-of-eight field goal attempts of 50 yards or more in a single season. His 41 career field goals of 50 yards or more is also the most in NFL history.

Not only is Hanson a threat to bomb one from 56 yards, but he's amazingly accurate from 40 yards and in, hitting .952 percent during his long career.

While many teams keep a veteran kicker for short-term accuracy, they'll sign a youngster for booming kickoffs and long-range field-goal attempts, Kowalski points out. With the 39-year-old Hanson, that's not necessary. four of his final five games last year, the average distance of his 15 kickoffs was 70 yards or more (which means they landed in the end zone). Hanson only had one touchback during that stretch because opponents didn't fear Detroit's coverage units and almost always brought the ball out of the end zone. In fact, Hanson's seven touchbacks were the third-fewest of his career, but his average kickoff of 65.9 yards was one full yard better than his career average.

But Hanson is only seventh on the all-time list for a simple reason -- the Lions have been one of the worst teams in the NFL, with one of the worst offenses, for most of his career.

Only one kicker has made the NFL Hall of Fame as a pure kicker, playing no other positions -- Jan Stenerud. I think Hanson, when all is said and done, will deserve to be there on his talent and incredible consistency over many years. But whether the drag on his numbers of being a Lion ultimately holds him out remains to be seen.

Talk about it in The Den!