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Hansen was a consummate professional

Allow me to add my two cents on former defensive end Phil Hansen being honored on the Bills Wall of Fame. Hansen, who will become the 27th member of the Wall, was among the classiest players and nicest people I've been around inside and outside of sports.

Hansen already was here as an established veteran when I returned to Buffalo from Philadelphia in 1995 while working for the Assiociated Press. My primary duty back then was covering football and picking up hockey when the Bills' season ended. Most people remember the Bills for their success, but I remember them as much for their personalities.

And Hansen was right at the top of the list.

Bruce Smith was one of the best -- if not the best -- player in team history, but much of his success came because he had Hansen on the other side. Hansen was an effort player who wasn't as blessed athletically as Bruce, but he gave the Bills everything he had and never complained. He also never became caught up in the massive egos that dominated the Bills in the 1990s.

It's not to suggest Hansen wasn't a great athlete. In fact, he was. The play people probably remember most was him intercepting Dan Marino's pass for a touchdown, but I can recall numerous plays in which his pressure from the left side flushed quarterbacks toward Bruce. In my opinion, Hansen was never given enough credit. Ask him, and he'd say he was given too much.

He was among the most humble athletes ever to wear a Buffalo uniform, a trait that clearly came from his hard-working upbringing. He often spoke about North Dakota and his hometown, which sounded like something out of a Norman Rockwell piece. He never lost his roots, either. On Mondays after victories, which were often in the 1990s, he used his day off to work on a farm off Route 20A.

Great player, great guy, great honor.

--- Bucky Gleason


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