Jason Hanson wanted to keep on kicking. His body told him to stop.
The Detroit Lions kicker is retiring after 21 NFL seasons, announcing his decision Thursday. The 42-year-old Hanson thought about returning, but problems with his heel prompted him to call it a career.
“It’s time,” Hanson said. “I gave serious thought and consideration to playing in 2013. While the determination and willpower are still there, the wear and tear on my body, especially the issues I had and still have with my heel, have convinced me that it’s time to retire.”
Hanson played at Mead High School and Washington State.
Hanson became the first player to play 300 games with one NFL franchise, finishing with 327. He also set an NFL record last year when he played his 21st season with the same team.
Hanson made a record 52 field goals from at least 50 yards. He’s third on the career scoring list at 2,150 points and third in field goals with 495. Hanson is the only player with 2,000 points for one franchise.
“Jason Hanson is the gold standard,” Lions President Tom Lewand said. “He had an exemplary, Hall-of-Fame worthy career on the field, and for those of us fortunate to know him well, he is an even better person, teammate, friend, husband and father.”
Hanson joined such players as Jerry Rice, George Blanda, Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson and Vinny Testaverde with 21 pro seasons.
Hanson joined the Lions in 1992, the year after they reached the NFC championship game. He played in six postseason games – all losses – and endured the team’s 0-16 performance of 2008.
But his perseverance was rewarded in 2011 when the Lions made the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years.
“I look forward to my press conference next Tuesday where I can publicly thank so many people who have played such a big part in my career,” Hanson said. “You all helped me along this journey and I am forever grateful.”