A Rebel at the Super Bowl

2012-02-03T06:00:00Z 2012-02-03T08:49:11Z A Rebel at the Super BowlBy Jesse Sowa, Albany Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald
February 03, 2012 6:00 am  • 

Byron Hansen discovered athletic training by accident.

Or maybe it's better described as several accidents.

Hansen broke his leg during his freshman football season at South Albany High School. Two years later he fractured a hip and dislocated an elbow.

"I was not that good of an athlete, but I was injury prone," Hansen said.

It was through his own string of physical setbacks that Hansen, now 56, became interested in a possible career in athletic training.

Fast forward almost 40 years, and Hansen is preparing for his third Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

"A lot of people never get to experience one. I don't take it for granted," Hansen said earlier this week in a phone interview after landing in Indianapolis, where the Giants will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.

Hansen is an assistant athletic trainer with the Giants and the team's coordinator of rehabilitation.

He's one of four full-time trainers. The staff also includes massage therapists, acupuncturists, consultants and other medical professionals.

He's always on call, and a typical day is often 12 hours or longer. His work includes hands-on physical therapy as well as setting up MRIs, X-rays and surgeries for athletes.

Few could have foreseen a trip to the Super Bowl after the injuries the Giants suffered before the season even began.

Ten different players required surgery prior to the Sept. 11 opener versus Washington.

It wasn't until the Christmas Eve game against the New York Jets that there was a feeling the team was finally getting healthy, Hansen said.

The Giants' postseason run really started in the final game of the regular season Jan. 1 at home against Dallas, with the NFC East Division title and a playoff spot on the line.

The Giants led 21-0 at halftime en route to a 31-14 win.

They followed that up with a 24-2 home win against Atlanta; a 37-20 win at defending NFL champion Green Bay in the division round; and a 20-17 overtime victory at San Francisco two Sundays ago in the NFC championship game.

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Hansen's training career started out as a student at the University of Oregon, where he was taught by Robert Larson and Don Slocum, considered to be pioneers in sports medicine.

It was in Eugene that he also worked with legendary distance runner Steve Prefontaine, who had graduated by the time Hansen had arrived but still came back to the UO to be treated.

After his own graduation, Hansen went to the University of Colorado, where he earned his master's.

He later moved on to the University of Southern California, where he was drawn by an opportunity to work with Dr. Robert Kerlan, the "father of sports medicine."

Hansen was with USC and the Trojans' sports department for more than 18 years.

The last 10 years of that stretch was spent as a Giants consultant. Hansen wasn't comfortable at first with moving his family across the country to join New York's staff on a full-time basis.

But in 1998 he made the move and has been with the Giants ever since.

While at USC, Hansen worked with future NFL players such as Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete.

Hansen enjoys football games between Oregon and USC because of his ties with both schools. But he says he still roots for Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who was a USC assistant during Hansen's time with the Trojans.

With the Giants, he's worked with so many stars that the list could almost be unending.

"I can't narrow it down," he said of picking his favorites. "I've just been very fortunate."

Hansen said he finds the most rewarding part of his job is the simple interactions he has with the players every day.

"They're very motivated," he said. "They're fun to be around. They work very hard."

Hansen sees the Super Bowl as a business trip. It's how the team keeps its focus on the task ahead.

Along with the rest of the Giants' players and staff, Hansen took part in Tuesday's Media Day.

Enjoying the rest of the festivities surrounding Sunday's game will have to be left to family members who traveled to Indianapolis.

"I'm just happy to be here," Hansen said.

Copyright 2015 Albany Democrat Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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