Phil Hansen is 33 and has just retired from the National Football League after 11 years with the Buffalo Bills. After winning two college championships at North Dakota State University in 1988 and 1990, he was drafted in the second round. In 2000 he was voted one of the Bills team captains. He grew up in Oakes, N.D. Hansen earned a bachelor's degree from NDSU in agricultural economics in 1991.
Any time you play for more than a couple years in the National Football League you always think about retirement, especially Monday mornings after Sunday games. But for a defensive lineman - playing 11 years - that's almost above and beyond the call of duty.
I wanted to leave the game on my own terms. I didn't want to be cut or traded.
I watched football as a kid but I never thought in my wildest dreams that pro football would be a reality for me. I never really considered college. My scope was a farm in Oakes. I've thought out of the box a little bit since that time and learned the sky's the limit and tried to achieve my potential through sports.
I worked hard through sports, but if I would have been a sales rep., I would have liked to think I'd have progressed just as much. The hard work is the common denominator, not just the job you're in. There's no substitute for effort. I've been told that and had it instilled in me and I believed it and I can't say that it has ever failed me.
I would have never paid to go to college.
The financial rewards of playing professional football far outweigh anything I could imagine. I can say this now - I would have played the game for a lot less.
The NFL is really a cross section of America. It's like any other business, you have every walk of life.
I played in three Super Bowls and two national championships in college. We won all the college ones and lost all the professional ones. I wouldn't reverse it but I wish I could have won one in each.
Everybody says 'at least you got there, 30 other teams didn't even get to the Super Bowl.' That only goes so far with the competitive spirit.
I would have given up the chance to go to two Super Bowls to win just one.
I think everybody should move once in a while so they don't become a pack rat. I moved out here with two duffel bags and a suitcase. It's amazing what you collect.
Basic things will always get you through - hard work, determination, truth. Put in an honest day's work and you'll get an honest day's pay.
I want to be remembered as a dependable, consistent, accountable person. Those are things I prided myself on and those are things I had to go to sleep at night knowing I achieved that day. You don't lie to yourself, you don't assign blame. If it's your fault take it, live up to it and move on.
Marv Leavy used to say football is simple but it's not easy.
I've learned that common sense isn't so common any more.
Respect is earned. It isn't given as a birthright. In my career I've come to that conclusion.