DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 18: Ryan Donahue #6 of the Detroit Lions holds the football as teammate Jason Hanson #4 kicks a field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Pride of Detroit is counting down the top 10 Lions players of 2012, as voted on by readers of the site. More than 400 ballots were submitted, and today we are taking a look at the No. 9 player on the list.
No. 9 - K Jason Hanson - 750 points (1 first-place vote)
There was a pretty good margin between the 10th and 11th spots in the voting on the top 10 Lions of 2012, but that wasn't the case between the ninth and 10th spots. Jason Hanson only beat out for the No. 9 spot by three points. Hanson was included on a total of 201 of the 457 ballots (15 more than Best), but a good portion of them had Hanson 10th. Thanks in part to one first-place and one second-place vote, however, Hanson was able to emerge as the No. 9 Lion of 2012.
Hanson, who just turned 42 last month, is set to enter his 21st season in the NFL. He has been the Lions' starting kicker since 1992, and with Nicklas Lidstrom retiring, Hanson is now the longest-tenured active athlete in Detroit sports.
Despite his, well, veteran status, Hanson has remained an excellent kicker for the Lions. There was a bit of uncertainty with injuries in 2010, which led to a competition between him and Dave Rayner for the starting kicker job in training camp last year. Hanson emerged victorious, and during the season he connected on 24-of-29 field goals and all 54 of his extra point attempts. He had a long kick of 51 yards in 2011, and he kicked the game-winning field goal against the Minnesota Vikings in overtime in Week 3.
While Hanson isn't quite sure just how much longer he will continue to play football, he will return as the Lions' starting kicker in 2012 as long as he's healthy. Yes, there is another kicker on the roster right now, but Derek Dimke is likely just a camp body. Hanson showed last year he's still got it, and based on him landing at No. 9 on the top 10 Lions of 2012, fans clearly are aware that he will be an important part of the team this upcoming season.
Much like with Lidstrom the last few years, it's likely that Hanson's career is starting to wind down. I just hope that the Lions are able to send him off as a champion before he hangs up his cleats, because if anyone deserves to be rewarded with a title for all of his hard work for this franchise, it's Hanson.
|Top 10 Lions of 2012|
|1.||WR Calvin Johnson (281)||4,370 points|
|2.||QB Matthew Stafford (168)||4,259 points|
|3.||DT Ndamukong Suh (4)||2,981 points|
|4.||LB Stephen Tulloch||2,190 points|
|5.||DE Cliff Avril (1)||2,014 points|
|6.||TE Brandon Pettigrew||1,256 points|
|7.||S Louis Delmas||1,230 points|
|8.||WR Titus Young||1,024 points|
|9.||K Jason Hanson (1)||750 points|
|10.||RB Jahvid Best||747 points|