JASON HANSON (’92 Zool.) never imagined playing pro football for 21 years, let alone setting records.
Hanson holds the National Football League record for the most seasons played with one team, the Detroit Lions, having been selected in the 1992 draft. During that long career, he racked up the most points of any player for the Lions until his retirement in 2013.
“Being the Lions’ all-time leading scorer goes hand in hand with playing so long with them, so it’s an honor to hold that record,” says Hanson, who lives in a Detroit suburb with Kathleen, his wife of 30 years. They have three children: sons Ryan and Luke, and a daughter, Jessica.
Hanson also set an NFL record for the most games ever played (327) with a single team. And he holds the NFL record for the most 40-plus-yard field goals (189). He ranks fourth in NFL history in career points scored (2,150) and field goals made (495).
Although the Lions haven’t won a playoff game in more than 30 years, Hanson says he was honored to play alongside NFL legend Barry Sanders.
“Barry still holds up as a sports icon and one of the most special NFL players ever. He could literally change a game in a moment. He was electrifying. That’s probably my real claim to fame: I played with Barry,” Hanson says.
After his retirement, the Lions inducted Hanson into the Ring of Honor.
“I never really pursued playing for another team, as they always were willing to re-sign me and I was willing to stay,” Hanson says. “I liked not having to move my family, and throughout my career I thought, ‘Why not try to win and be successful here?’ as opposed to trying to find the highest bidder in the free agent market. The team success never happened, but I don’t regret playing only for the Lions.”
GRADUATE ASSISTANT COACH GREG OLSON RECRUITED HANSON AS A WALK-ON FOR WSU. After making the team, he was awarded a full-ride scholarship.
“Playing football at WSU was an amazing opportunity. The support for Cougar football is amazing. To this day, being a Coug means something everywhere I’ve ever been in the country. I played with icons like Drew Bledsoe, and I played in some iconic games, like when we beat No. 1 ranked UCLA in 1988. It was such a special experience,” Hanson says.
“The opportunities I was given as a kicker were extraordinary. We attempted long field goals that no other program in the country was trying. As far as my individual career, Coach Mike Price gave me chances to perform that were the reason for me eventually having a professional career.”
In 2021, Hanson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, a milestone he called “surreal. I never would have imagined— walking on at WSU—that I would eventually be inducted,” he says. “It is such an incredible honor, especially when you see the names of those who are already in the Hall.”
HANSON RETURNED TO WSU after his first season with the Lions to complete two classes needed for graduation. Hanson says he remains grateful to have played football for WSU.
“The passionate fan base—the support from the Palouse, my hometown of Spokane, and the Inland Northwest—makes it so great to be a Coug. So, in that sense, I’m most proud to have actually played at WSU,” he says.
Since retirement, Hanson has spent more time with his family, given private lessons to kickers, and done motivational speaking. His main activity, however, is supporting charity and faith-based events. He and his wife are very active in their church.
“For me, I think the most important development during my NFL career and now retirement is my growing faith and conviction,” he says. “I believe each of us is in need of redemption and forgiveness, and it’s found in Jesus Christ. And being a Christian athlete means I give my best to perform at the highest levels in sports, but that’s always secondary for my identity. What God says of me and what God wants of me comes first.”
Quite a kicking career: Videos from Hanson’s amazing career as a kicker, stats, and interviews