March 6, 2023

“I want to play, and I want to be in the best shape I can be.”

1st Half - Anthems - Thiadric Hansen 3

Thiadric Hansen desperately wants to run out of the tunnel at IG Field and to hear Bomber fans at full throat again. And he most definitely wants to feel all his senses tingle after bull-rushing an offensive lineman and bringing down an enemy ball carrier.

Right now, though, what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end wants most is to just experience the stuff he long took for granted.

“I’m missing doing the simple things, like running and jumping,” Hansen said in a recent chat with “Of course, I’m looking forward to practice because during this point of winter, and whether you’re injured or not, you are always missing the contact, the violence of it. That is normal to me.

“But I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m just doing the usual movements – like running or jumping – without thinking about it.”

Hansen has been back in Winnipeg for six weeks, opting to return from Germany to continue the rehab on the Achilles injury he suffered in last fall’s Labour Day Classic win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders – a play which not only ended his season, but also means that when training camp opens in May, he’ll be limited in what he does and closely monitored by Blue Bombers Head Athletic Therapist, Al Couture.

“It was so innocent,” said Hansen of the injury. “I was just running down the field on punt cover and it just felt like somebody stepped on my heel. I fell down, turned around to look at what happened, and my calf felt kind of weird.

“I wondered if it was my Achilles, but I could still move my foot. Then the physios came and asked me to push my foot against their hand and I couldn’t with any force and when they took my shoe off, we knew.”

Hansen’s surgery was conducted by Dr. Peter MacDonald, and he opted to return to Winnipeg in mid-January so that his recovery can be handled by Couture’s staff.

“It made more sense for me to be here,” said Hansen, moments before a workout. “I trust the people here. I knew one physio in Germany, who is now a doctor, and she could have done it. But I needed that trust. They specialize in it, and I do work on it every day where in Germany the workouts wouldn’t have been as football specific. I’m also able to visit the doctor who did the surgery, Dr. MacDonald.

“Plus, it’s my contract year. I want to play, and I want to be in the best shape I can be.”

Just as important for Hansen was to be around a wider support system, including the players who live in Winnipeg year-round, as well as the coaching staff. There can be dark days, after all, in any athlete’s recovery – both the physical and the mental.

“It was hardest when you are on the sidelines watching and you can’t be on the field,” said Hansen. “It’s like you let them down, even though no one gives you that feeling at all. Watching the Grey Cup was probably one of the worst experiences for me. It’s because you’re not suiting up and all you can do is cheer on the sidelines and try to be positive.

“The dark times were the Grey Cup. And the worst case for me to experience was actually the Western Final against B.C. That whole energy – I didn’t feel it so much during the game because I was caught up with the energy of the crowd – but when I came home that day after such a great game… that was hard.”

Hansen pushed through that mental torture and is now in a good place, literally and figuratively. And the Blue Bombers know this much: the 30-year-old German will grind, grind and grind some more to get back on the field.

He’s already doing two workouts a day – one specific to the Achilles recovery and the second outlined by Blue Bombers Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Brayden Miller.

“It’s a test. I’ve never had to think of this before,” Hansen said. “I’ve had little stuff before, like maybe a dislocated finger and I tore a ligament on the outside of my foot, but it didn’t keep me from playing. Some people can get sucked in during times like this and it can get dark. It’s dangerous. One hundred percent that can be dangerous. That’s why I’m so lucky to be in a good surrounding. It doesn’t allow me to get to that place.

“You know, the window to play this game is small and especially for me because I was already 26 when I came here. Stuff like this happens and I can’t make myself crazy about it. Injuries are a part of football. It’s just easy for me to stay in a positive mood and to grind when you’re on a team like this because everyone is so supportive.”