A Saint In Sioux Falls
February 6, 2010, 10:12 PM
SIOUX FALLS, SD -
The New Orleans Saints will play in their very first Super Bowl Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts, and one South Dakota resident knows exactly how Saints fans are feeling. He's a former team member himself.
Former University of Sioux Falls punter Brian Hansen played in the NFL for 15 years. Four of those were with the New Orleans Saints. He says before he arrived in 1984, the team was known as the "Aints," for consistently losing. But during Hansen's tenure, New Orleans started to climb out of the basement.
"That was a fun thing to be a part of, just to see the transition," Hansen said. "And just to see the little bit of success they've had since then, I'm just excited for them now to have that opportunity there to be in the big game."
Until this season, the New Orleans Saints had appeared in the NFC championship game only once, losing to the Chicago Bears in 2006. Hansen, who now works as state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Sioux Falls, says the team's success has re-invigorated the city of New Orleans.
"I think especially with everything they've gone through in the past several years, just rebuilding the city, you hear about that and these guys have been a vital part of just bringing something positive to the city and people there," Hansen said.
Hansen attended an alumni reunion of past Saints players in November, when the team's Super Bowl buzz was starting to build. He says the experience helped him understand just how difficult the journey to the big game is and he's grateful to know the team.
"It's just exciting to have been reconnected with them a little bit after all these years and to see them have this kind of success," Hansen said. "I think you appreciate it more when you have a team like that, that finally gets there after all those years of 'maybe next year.'"
Despite his pride and allegiance to the Saints, Hansen admits he's actually rooting for one of his good friends this Super Bowl - Indianapolis kicker Matt Stover. The two were teammates with the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s.
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