When kicker Jason Hanson announced his retirement last week, he closed the final chapter on an NFL career that spanned 21 seasons with the mostly lowly Detroit Lions. Hanson’s epilogue remains to be written, though, and we won’t know the full story until after his name lands on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot in 2018. Can Hanson crash the gates of Canton or will he suffer the same fate as the leg-swingers who came before him?
In the long history of the NFL, only three kickers have been elected to the Hall of Fame: George Blanda, Lou Groza, and Jan Stenerud. The first two are legends of the gridiron, and Stenerud played a huge role in bringing the Kansas City Chiefs their only Super Bowl victory.
Hanson, on the other hand, must build his case purely on the basis of longevity and the strength of his individual statistics. He really wasn’t a pioneer, and his teams generally stunk on ice . Nevertheless, Hanson made four Pro-Bowl teams, including three first-team selections, and he finished as the third leading scorer in NFL history, way ahead of the three kickers already enshrined.
Still, there are others on that scoring list for whom a strong HOF argument could be made and may crowd the field to much for Hanson to gain election. What do you think? Who will be the next kicker to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?