November 10, 2009 in Sports

Ex-WV star, three other ‘88 grads from area played in NFL

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Photos: Spokesman-Review archive, Associated Press photo

Tim Hanshaw, as a West Valley Eagle in the 1980s, and helping San Francisco 49ers teammates Terrell Owens (81) and Jerry Rice (80) celebrate a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers.Spokesman-Review archive,
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The timing was perfect last Thursday to catch up on the whereabouts of Tim Hanshaw and chat.

“I have all the time in the world,” the ex-West Valley, BYU and San Francisco 49er football lineman said in a phone interview. “I have Blue Tooth in my car and am just sitting here with traffic all around me on the freeway.”

The Los Angeles traffic was backed up, he discovered later, because a car had crashed over the divider on I-405. While creeping along he also offered this amazing reminder.

“I tell people there were four of us in the same graduating class who all played in the NFL at the same time from the little old town of Spokane,” Hanshaw enthused.

Hanshaw and Cheney’s Steve Emtman, who played against each other in the Frontier League; Mead kicker Jason Hanson, who is still playing with the Detroit Lions; and Ferris tight end-linebacker Jeff Robinson all graduated in 1988 and went on to professional football careers.

Emtman was the nation’s top defensive lineman for national champion University of Washington and drafted first by Indianapolis. Hanson, following his Washington State career, joined Detroit and is in his 18th season. Robinson had a standout career at Idaho, played defense and was a long snapper for several NFL teams, retiring in 2007.

“Steve and I never lined up against each other,” Hanshaw said of his high school years when the schools twice played epic games. “I wouldn’t say he was my buddy, but we had a connection. We’d see each other at Dick’s on Friday night and year-round we were competing against each other in football, basketball and track.”

They caught up with each other one year in Miami and were briefly together in San Francisco.

“Here’s one for you,” Hanshaw said. “I was playing with the 49ers against St. Louis, maybe it was Denver, in Candlestick Park. It’s a pass play and I’m blocking the defensive end and got upfield and this guy said, ‘been to Spokane lately?’ I’m, like, ‘what?’ ”

It was Robinson, who he called, “the nicest guy in the world. And I remember talking to Jason when he was kicking for Detroit.”

Hanshaw, whose career ended in 1998 after four years with the 49ers, had no idea Hanson was still playing.

Today Hanshaw is raising a family of five children with his wife of 17 years, Rachelle. They met while she was working in the BYU team cafeteria and married in 1992.

“She was a cultured professional dancer who had to deal with those dumb, low-IQ’d individuals,” Hanshaw said. “I won her heart eventually.”

Their children range in age from 16 to 6 months – daughter Alexus, 16, sons Michael, 13, and Bentley, 10, daughter Emmalee, 8, and son Christian, 6 months. The older boys are football players and Hanshaw coaches them. Michael, he predicts, will be bigger than himself. The younger more resembles the blockier Emtman.

Hanshaw got into the technology business after football, working first in Northern California and later Seattle. Today he’s with a company that provides movie special effects and on-line file storage for the entertainment industry. He lives in Moorpark, a city of 37,000 northwest of L.A. in Ventura County and “over the hill” from Malibu.

His route to the NFL from the Spokane Valley was circuitous. A lanky 6-foot-4, 210 pounder as a sophomore at West Valley, Hanshaw ate his way up to 250 pounds by his senior season. His high school coach, Steve Kent, said Hanshaw and Emtman, both two-way players, were purposely kept separate on the field so they wouldn’t negate each other.

Hanshaw credits Kent for making sure his academic classes were conducive to a Division I scholarship and teaching him to run block. He played basketball to enhance his football visibility. Recruited by most of the Pac-10, his LDS faith led him to Brigham Young.

He was a second-team offensive guard as a freshman until he informed coaches he would be going on a mission the next year.

“The line coach and coordinator Norm Chow got me on offense, which I think gave me a much better chance,” Hanshaw said. “After playing against defensive linemen who were bigger, faster, stronger, I couldn’t touch their speed.”

Hanshaw spent two years in Sweden on his mission, a time he said taught him to prioritize and put sports in its proper place. “It made me a better football player.”

Back at BYU, he redshirted to get his weight and strength back, filled in at tackle and guard as a junior and worked his way into the starting lineup by his senior year, where he had a stellar year. The seven-year journey led to San Francisco drafting him in the fourth round.

“In five years of college I never saw the surgeon’s scalpel,” said Hanshaw, who stands 6-foot-6½ and played professionally between 300 and 315 pounds. In the NFL, he had several surgeries, on both knees and his back before being forced to call it a career.

“I remember playing the Seahawks,” he reminisced. “It was a screen pass to (Jerry) Rice, I pull as a guard, throw a reverse body block and break Cortez Kennedy’s ankle. My teammates told me, ‘watch the piles, man.’ ”

He’s a svelte 235 pounds today, years after playing with storied coaches and stars like Heisman Trophy finalist Ty Detmer in college, and Steve Young, Rice and Terrell Owens in San Francisco.


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