ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW/Bills Release) - Below are quotes from former Bills Defensive End Phil Hansen on his election to the Bills Wall of Fame:
On his beginnings and where he came from:
Sure, I grew up on a farm in North Dakota, went to North Dakota State in 1986, I was recruited to live there. I was part of three national championships there, in ’91 I graduated from NDSU, drafted by the Buffalo Bills second-round, 54th overall pick or something like that. I played in a couple of All-Star games before I got to there. Drafted by the Bills, played at mini-camp that was my first indoctrination. To the Buffalo Bills, see they were coming from the Super Bowl so they were kind of upset at the time. We lost that Super Bowl and went to three more. I had an 11 year career that went up to 2002.
On what it meant to him to have played his entire career in Buffalo:
I think everyone wants to do that stuff and the thing that really helped was the guys that drafted me here, they knew what my capabilities were. I think there are 20 other teams in the NFL where I probably never would have made 11 years with. This team just fit me perfectly. And being the 3-4 defense, that’s kind of what I was. But then to come here to the town, blue collar town and I’m a blue collar guy, you know I’m not overly gifted in any kind of way, I just work hard, just like the community. I really felt like I fit in great here. I certainly wanted to spend all my career here, after I found out what Buffalo, NY was all about. And it just happened to work out that way.
On looking at the wall of names while he was playing here:
You know certainly I looked the first few times, but then it just became part of the rest of the wall. But I certainly knew the names that were up there. And then in the last decade, I certainly recognize my teammates up there and they’re definitely worthy names to go up there. But yeah, for me to go up there, I think that’s pretty special. Yeah, for them to think of me in that way is pretty cool.
On his memories while playing in Buffalo:
There are a lot of personal highlights, the biggest thing that I remember, obviously the Super Bowls were big, but the Houston comeback game, with just that “never quit” attitude and you can really send that message to kids now-a-days. Even though things don’t look so bright, I mean we were down 32-points and we came back and won. That game means a lot and I use it a lot because it sends a message. But you know there are other personal highlights, interceptions and touchdowns. But the thing I miss most about the NFL is game day, like this, and I like to experience that again, and just the guys around the locker room. I don’t miss meetings or practice or any of that other stuff. After 11 years and you turn 30, they start calling you Grandpa in the NFL. But it was a good career and to be honored in this way, it’s right up there. I thought my best accolades would have been while I was still playing. To have something like this happen is a big deal, to me, and I can bring my family back and show them what I did. That means a lot to me too.
On if he ever thought he’d get this recognition when he was growing up in North Dakota:
I didn’t even think I’d go to college. No. You know kids kind of plan for this now, you know they’re sending out tape in the 8th grade. We didn’t even have tape in 1986, I don’t think. But you know, I fell through the cracks in a good way, I worked hard, all the time and I let the chips fall as they may and did. And to get to the NFL, that’s no small feat, but you know I had some luck along the way and fell through the cracks in a good way. That’s the way I like to look at it.
On who gave him his work ethic:
I think it was just growing up on a poor farm in North Dakota, I mean you had to work. My first organized practice was in 7th grade. My earliest recollection of football was being out there in the 7th grade waiting for the other kids for practice to start. The kids just saying “Gee, this stinks, it’s hot, we just want to play the game.” And I’m just like “I’m just glad to be here, if I was at home I’d really have to be working.” You know that’s my earliest recollection, I guess I just didn’t know it any other way.