#3: Phil Hansen
Over a decade-long career with the Buffalo Bills, Phil Hansen was and remains one of the longest-serving players in franchise history, as well as one of the most productive.
After being selected by the Buffalo Bills out of North Dakota State where he set school records with 41 regular-season sacks and 32 pass breakups, Hansen had a relatively slow start to his career. Though in hindsight, two sacks and 40 combined tackles are nothing to scoff at, it would be nothing compared to the numbers and accolades Hansen would record as his career progressed.
Coming off a rookie season where he was nominated to the 1991 All-Rookie team, Hansen became a vital piece of the Bills front-four on their quest for a Super Bowl. In 1992, fans saw a quadrupling in Hansen’s sack total jumping from two to eight as the team made another Super Bowl run with Hansen being one of the key defensive players in the driver’s seat. Though they again came up short, and would do so two more times, Hansen stayed anchored on the Bills line.
Following another crushing Super Bowl defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in 1994, Hansen would go on to have one of his best seasons in a Bills uniform in 1995. Recording a career-high 10 sacks on the season with an additional 76 combined tackles.
Though the franchise would never again reach a Super Bowl during Hansen’s career, he played an incremental role as a veteran during a time of change for the Bills.
Having played for then head coach, Mark Levey, Hansen remained one of the few players who had felt what it was like to win when the Buffalo Bills decided to bring in Wade Phillips in 1998 and Gregg Williams in 2001. Being a player who had been there for all Super Bowl appearances, Hansen was looked at to be one the leaders as the franchise tried to get back to where they were.
Today, Hansen remains a large reason as to why the Bills were able to reach the Super Bowls that they did. He, alongside other defensive players like Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley live on as some of the most prolific and celebrated Buffalo Bills of all time.