With CFL season cancelled, Bombers global player Hansen looks to keep skills sharp in Poland

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Hansen, 27, was likely the biggest success story from the CFL’s global initiative in 2020. He was taken by the Bombers in the European draft, came to Winnipeg as a linebacker, converted to defensive end, and wound up playing significant minutes in the team’s run to the 2020 Grey Cup.

He was working hard throughout the off-season, preparing to return to Winnipeg for the second year of his two-year contract, but the pandemic got in the way.

With his deal with the Bombers due to expire in February anyway, the team released him so he could take the job in Poland.

“I thought it was be better to stay in shape because I just learned the new defensive end position,” Hansen said. “They want me here at defensive end so it’s probably a good opportunity to learn and make sure I don’t lose everything. Also, I’ve got an American coach here who can teach me stuff.”

The Polish league and one in Finland are the only American football leagues on the go in Europe this year. The Polish league season starts on Sept. 5 and ends in mid-November.

Hansen figures it will be at least a couple of months until he gets a chance to see his Grey Cup ring, which the Bombers have shipped to his home in Flensburg, Germany.

“We had an official Grey Cup Zoom meeting where we got to see everybody and we saw the rings for the first time,” Hansen said. “They shipped me the ring but it went to my family home so I probably won’t see it until I come back in the middle of November.

“I can’t hold it in my hand yet. It’s one thing to see it on a computer screen, but I definitely want to hold it and wear it. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

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