Lions kicker Jason Hanson retires after 21 seasons

Lions kicker Jason Hanson is retiring after 21 seasons in the NFL. (USATSI)

When Detroit's Jason Hanson kicked his first career field goal: George Bush was president -- the first George Bush -- and current Lions starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was 4-years-old. That kick came on Sept. 6, 1992.

Twenty-one years later, Hanson is calling it quits.   

The veteran kicker announced on Thursday that he's retiring.

"It was time to make a decision. It was time to step away," Hanson told the team's website.

Hanson was the league's longest-tenured player.

Hanson had been mulling retirement since the season ended and said that, in the end, an injured heel is what led him to make the decision to call it a career. Hanson injured his left heel last year.

"Ultimately, it's my heel," Hanson said. "Now that we're starting a new year, it's still an issue. Each time I'd start to push it, I'd kind of short-circuit. I realized that at this point of my career, I don't want to perform in a compromised way. It's not good for the team." 

There had been reports that stalled contract negotiations with the Lions is what led to Hanson's retirement, but Hanson shot that theory down.

"It would not have been an issue," Hanson said of negotiating a new contract. "There are no hard feelings. It never got to a point where there was serious back and forth with numbers, it didn't matter."

Hanson's retirement officially ends the career of one of the most prolific kickers in NFL history. The former Washington State star holds the NFL record for most career 50-yard field goals (52) and most games played with one team (327). Detroit picked Hanson in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft and he's been with the team ever since.

With 2,150 career points, Hanson ranks third on the NFL's all-time scoring list, behind only Gary Anderson (2,434) and Morten Andersen (2,544). 

Hanson's 495 career field goals also ranks third on the league's all-time list and somewhat fittingly, both Hanson's first career field goal and last career field goal came against the Chicago Bears. 

The only thing Hanson is missing in his storied career is a playoff win. The Lions made it to the postseason six times in Hanson's 21-year career, but lost all six games. Detroit's last playoff win came on Jan. 5, 1992, three-and-a-half months before Hanson was drafted. 

Keep your eye on everything NFL by following John Breech on Twitter: @JohnBreech.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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