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North Dakota’s Wall of Famer


North Dakota has no shortage of star athletes. One is Phil Hansen. Phillip Allen Hansen was born May 20, 1968 in Ellendale, North Dakota.

Phil played for the University of North Dakota. When he was a senior, professional teams came to watch him work out. When representatives of the Buffalo Bills arrived, the UND gym was in use. They went to the local high school, but that gym was also being used. Phil ended up doing the workout in the school hallway! He said he was embarrassed at the time, but it did the trick. Buffalo drafted him in 1991. Phil also remembered when he got his first bonus. His agent called and said he was able to get thirty. Phil, being a small town kid, thought he meant thirty dollars. The agent said, “No, I mean $30,000.” Phil said he dropped the phone and wondered what he would do with all that money

In only his second game for Buffalo, Phil substituted for Bruce Smith. He played ten games that season, and made fans take notice with his aggressive play. He may have been overshadowed because he played on the same defensive line as Smith, but he had a fine career. He never went to the Pro Bowl, but he played in three Super Bowls.

Phil spent his entire professional career, eleven seasons, with the Buffalo Bills and was a fan favorite. He holds the team record for the number of fumble recoveries in playoff games, and is fifth on the list of overall fumble recoveries by a Bills’ player. When he retired, he placed second in number of sacks for the team. On this date in 2011, excitement was growing in Buffalo. Phil was going to be inducted onto the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame the following day.

Following retirement, Phil returned to his small town roots, and currently lives in Minnesota. He ran for the Minnesota Senate, but was defeated in a narrow race. He is a commentator for NDSU football games. And while he is a North Dakota native, Phil Hansen will always have plenty of fans in Buffalo, New York, too.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Inside the Bills. "" Accessed 8/10/15.

Gehman, Jim. Then Levy Said to Kelly… Triumph Books, 2008.