Jason Hanson is hanging up his kicking cleats after 21 seasons.
The Detroit Lions veterans, a mainstay with the franchise for more than two decades, has opted to retire after he could not work out a contract with the organization. Hanson had indicated when free agency opened that he would like to play in 2013 but reports were the Lions were only offering a contract for the minimum a year after he made 32 of 36 field goals.
According to Mike O’Hara, who has covered the team since the 1970’s and now works for the team’s Web site, a heel injury helped make Hanson’s mind up.
“It was time to make a decision,” Hanson told O’Hara. “It was the right time to step away.
“Ultimately, it’s my heel – the problem I developed last year. Now that we’re starting a new year, it’s still an issue. I have the desire. I have the determination, as I said earlier, to come back.
“Each time I’d start to push it, I’d kind of short-circuit. I realized that at this point of my career, I don’t want to perform in a compromised way. It’s not good for the team. I lost a little of my desire to play injured.”
Hanson, 42, did his best to make it clear the contract wasn’t the issue.
“I would have worked out a contract with the Detroit Lions,” he told O’Hara. “There was talk, and at the start, with their initial offer, it gave me some time to evaluate — ‘OK, am I going to do this?’ Ultimately, no.
“It would not have been an issue. There are no hard feelings. It never got to a point where there was serious back and forth with numbers. It didn’t matter.”
Hanson walks away with 495 career field goals, third in NFL history, and fourth in attempts with 601. It was a remarkable career with one franchise.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune