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April 15, 2020

“I’m staying ready for whenever we start” | Hansen Eager to return to Canada

#43 Thiadric Hansen during Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie camp Wednesday May 15, 2019.

Thiadric Hansen has questions and he wants answers, just like the rest of us.

Halfway across the globe – it’s 4,058 miles between Winnipeg and his hometown of Flensburg, Germany – the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive lineman is waiting out this Coronavirus pandemic and praying for a return to normal.

“It seems to be the same here as in Canada,” said Hansen in a conversation with bluebombers.com. “You can’t be outside in groups of three or more. All the main gyms and big gyms are closed. Only grocery stores are open and it seems like everything else is shut down.

“It’s a difficult time here, but we’ll get through it. Here in Flensburg I don’t think there are many cases and none of my friends and family have it so far. We’re lucky.”

Hansen described his current set-up as a ‘good situation.’ He lives with his parents and he has a friend nearby who has his own gym, allowing Hansen the opportunity to continue to work out regularly.

“I’m staying ready for whenever we start,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it because I just want to play again. But this is out of my hands, I can’t control it, so I just stay ready and whenever I get the call I’ll leave in one day.”

Hansen’s Canadian Football League debut seemed ripped straight from the pages of a Hollywood script, with a Disney ending on Grey Cup Sunday. Drafted second overall by the Bombers in the inaugural European Draft as part of the CFL 2.0 initiative, Hansen arrived in training camp as a wide-eyed rookie trying to soak up as much as possible.

He drew immediate praise from coaches and teammates as he stayed after practice for extra reps and was forever asking for assistance in technique or posing questions in film study. That dedication paid off quickly, as the 27-year-old earned more and more work on special teams, and by season’s end was regularly taking turns as a rotational player on defence.

“I look back at last year and it’s still unreal to me,” said Hansen. “I left Winnipeg one week after the Grey Cup and so I was there for the parade and all the partying after. That was probably the most crazy part of it because I’ve only seen things like the parades on TV. Then to be a part of it… I saw how much it meant to people and there were so many people on the streets that day.

“You know, I haven’t watched the (Grey Cup) and so I haven’t even had a recap. It’s weird, I have some friends and they’ll say, ‘You’re a Grey Cup champion. You’re one of the guys who made it out of football in Germany.’ That is surreal. I enjoy it… that was such a good experience. That’s what makes me look forward to this year.”

In less than a year, then, Hansen went from almost walking away from football – he was driving a bus for the children of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Germany – to not only becoming a champion, but the face of the CFL’s 2.0 initiative.

That means he’s fielding calls from the next wave of global players from fellow German Sven Briedenbach, an offensive lineman, as well as British linebacker David Izinyon, both of whom had earned invitations to the CFL Combine, since cancelled. The CFL’s Global Draft will now instead be held prior to the opening of training camps.

“I was at the combine in Germany and there were a lot of guys who had questions for me, especially Sven because we know each other,” said Hansen. “He’s asked me a lot. Even before the combine I had a guy (Tyron Vrede) from the college where Brady Oliveira was, North Dakota, who was from the Netherlands and he was asking about being part of the Global initiative and he is part of it now.

“I’ve talked to David (Izinyon) from the U.K. They’re all fired up and all want to prove themselves there in Canada. They always asks me questions about how it is over there and I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Winnipeg and the CFL.”

Make no mistake, Hansen’s ascension into the CFL spotlight hasn’t gone to his head. He’s got much more to give on the field, he insists, and every extra rep he does in the gym he hopes will help him in his sophomore season.

“It’s funny. It was just one year and in my mind I have so much to do to improve,” he said. “A lot of things worked out for me, but this year I’ve got a lot more planned. I’ve got a lot more I want to improve. I want to make it on punt cover… that was the only special team I didn’t make it on last year.

“I’d like to have made more tackles on kickoff returns, too. I was just running down there. I’ve seen a couple of plays where I didn’t make good tackles. And for punt… it’s probably one of the hardest special teams when you are in punt protection. It was my first year and you need to have a good overview. Our special teams coordinator put only the guys on that unit he really trusts and I’m trying to get there because when you make it there you’ve really made it on special teams. That’s my goal.

“As I said, I’ve got a lot to improve on this year. So I’m just waiting, like everyone else, and when this is over I’m ready to go.”