The Winnipeg Blue Bombers already under contract are all singing from the same songbook when it comes to 2021 – they want to go back-to-back and repeat as Grey Cup champions.
And then there’s Thiadric Hansen, signed to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday, who wants to go back-to-back-to-back after adding a Polish league championship with the Wroclaw Panthers this past fall following the Bombers’ victory in 2019.
“It was a great experience there. It was so much fun,” said Hansen in a chat with bluebombers.com from his home in Germany. “I also had a lot of people from Canada congratulate me for winning back to back championships here.
“Signing back with the Bombers… there was really no reason for me to leave. They gave me the opportunity. The Bombers were the reason I had success in my first year. They put me in the right surroundings. It was an easy decision.”
Hansen was the flag bearer for the CFL’s 2.0 initiative, establishing himself as the clear-cut best of the Global players. Drafted second overall by the Bombers in the league’s inaugural European Draft, Hansen saw his workload increase dramatically as the ’19 season unfolded as he went from a special teams contributor to a rotational player on defence. He finished the regular season with five tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles and made two critical plays in the Grey Cup run – making a tackle on a goal-line stand in the Western Final win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then thumping two Hamilton Tiger-Cats players on a kickoff cover in the Grey Cup.
When the CFL’s 2020 season was cancelled, he asked for his release to continue to work on his craft with the Panthers in the Liga Futbou Amerykanskiego. He was dominant in Poland and was named to American Football International’s ‘All Pandemic Team’ for his work with the Panthers.
“I didn’t really go there for the competition,” said Hansen. “I went there to practice against Sven Breindenbach, the offensive lineman who is getting a shot at the CFL, and the coach who could teach me technique (former Northwestern player Demetrius Eaton).
“There’s still a huge gap between me and what people in Canada or players from college in the U.S. have in terms of knowledge of the game. I needed to work on making the gap closer in terms of knowledge and technique stuff. That’s why I went. You’ve always got to try to get better.”
It’s that dedication to learning that the Bombers coaching staff noticed instantly during training camp in ’19. Couple that with his brute strength and Hansen became the perfect prototype for the Global player – a prospect who only needed an opportunity to grow his game.
Interestingly, the last 14 months have represented a whirlwind for Hansen, now 28. Prior to being identified by the CFL as a Global prospect, he was thinking of winding down his football career with one more season in the German League .
“It’s crazy, just crazy,” said Hansen. “I was in Postsdam and thought that 2019 was going to be my last year of football.
“I actually talked with a friend about this yesterday. Right now I’d probably be in the military if this hadn’t worked out. I’m so grateful to the Blue Bombers and how everything has turned out so well for me. Now I can still play football at the highest level I have ever experienced. It’s a blessing, definitely.”
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