The Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame will feature a new member this Sunday. (Photo by Matt Warren)
Phil Hansen will join 26 former Buffalo Bills players and personnel on the team's Wall of Fame this Sunday. During a special ceremony at halftime, the former defensive lineman will be honored at midfield and his name will be unveiled atop Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Hansen spent his entire career in Buffalo, and during those 11 seasons totaled 61.5 sacks, good for second in team annals when he retired (and currently third).
Unfortunately, the man who founded the team and whose name graces the stadium won't be in attendance. Bills owner Ralph Wilson will miss the home opener for the first time in 52 seasons. A broken hip in June kept him away from training camp at St. John Fisher college, and will prohibit him from attending Sunday's game.
My favorite story from Hansen comes from his pre-draft process. Hansen starred at Division II North Dakota State. After the combine, teams would go and watch him work out, but the school only had one gymnasium. When Bills scout Doug Majewski visited campus, the gym was being used. Thinking on their feet, they went to a local high school to use the gym, but that was another dead end.
"I wound up doing my testing for the Bills in the hallway of Fargo North high school about three blocks away from the college," Hansen told BuffaloBills.com in 2010. "We did some running tests and some jumping tests. We did mostly the short burst tests, no 40-yard dashes. He wanted a time for a five-yard burst and a 10-yard burst. It was kind of embarrassing that we couldn’t find a place to do the work out."
The Bills saw enough to take Hansen in the second round in 1991.
Hansen is the second Bills defensive lineman to choose the Raiders as his induction game in recent years. His teammate and fellow sack artist Bruce Smith chose Oakland's visit in 2008 for his name to go on the Wall. Hansen is the ninth player from the team's Super Bowl years to be inducted into the Wall of Fame, in addition to coach Marv Levy and owner Ralph Wilson.
Hansen's induction coincides with the annual Buffalo Bills Alumni Association's Alumni Weekend, which begins tonight. Proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warriors program. Former Bills Mike Stratton and Keith Lincoln will be on hand Saturday night at the opening gala to sign pictures of the famous "Hit Heard 'Round The World" from the 1964 AFL Championship game. On Sunday, the Alumni Association is sponsoring a tailgating tent neat the Bills Healthy Zone, as well.