There’s one irreplaceable truth about Chase Hansen’s 2020 season with New Orleans Saints: His mobility can’t be beat.
The rest may be open to interpretation, depending on what is important to the person. Hansen, for example, liked his preparation. He was celibate and lived primarily in the Saints’ Airline Drive facility anyway, plus the price was right.
But the employer was not a huge fan.
“I thought people knew, and I thought management knew, and I thought coaches knew,” Hansen said, laughing. “Apparently no one really knew until later in the season and everybody found out somehow. So in December, (general manager) Mickey Loomis came over and said, ‘Chase, we can’t make you live in the parking lot.'”
Specifically, he was living in a pickup truck in the parking lot. Not just any truck, but a cheating Ford Transit truck. From the time he made the initial Saints list of 53 people through December of that year, Hansen invited an unused RV board into the back parking lot of the Saints facility’s home.
“It was a beautiful car! Hansen said, a little defensively. “I loved it. That was cool. I used to live there (in the parking lot), shower here (in the facility). I would go to the truck, kick it, and watch the movie.”
life in the bubble
Hansen’s story about the one time he lived in a pickup truck in the Saints’ parking lot is more than a funny little curiosity. It also reflects the challenges of life in the NFL roster bubble. The pay may be great, but job security is bullshit.
He made the list that year, but Hansen knew his place wasn’t certain. Hansen wasn’t a pilot pick, didn’t have a guaranteed contract, and had a major injury.
Players like him are often caught up in the endless momentum of the NFL roster. Oftentimes, they are subject to waivers, meaning that for 24 hours they are entitled to claim by any of the other 31 clubs, which leaves them no say in their future destination and makes long-term home rentals a risky proposition.
This situation, Hansen said, is one that players take on more than you think.
“That’s a lot of guys like, ‘I don’t know where I’ll be from day to day,’” Hansen said. “Even if you’re not[in training]sometimes you’re just a bubble guy. And with my health for so long, I wish I could be more confident whether or not I’d be healthy, but I was like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” “
Those were the thoughts running through Hansen’s head after he made the Saints roster at the start of the 2020 season. He had spent the entire previous season in the injured reserve position with a back injury, not sure his body would handle it. Although he knew he made a good impression with a solid training camp, he never assumed his job was safe.
He talked to a group of players and asked them for advice, and everyone had a different answer. Hansen began to flip his unique solution in his head.
When his parents, who live in Utah, called to congratulate him on making the list, Hansen asked them for a big favor.
They were like, ‘Hey, I made the team! ‘” Hansen recalls. ‘And I was like, ‘Wow; I don’t really want to get a lease. I don’t want an apartment yet. “”
Life in the truck
Let’s talk about the truck, because it was no ordinary truck.
Hansen is an outdoorsy enthusiast and has always been intrigued by the idea of owning a car that he can live in while touring the scenic areas. He found someone in New York selling a 2015 Ford Transit truck that was well used as freight. It had over 100,000 miles, but it fit what Hansen was looking for.
He bought it and shipped it to Arizona, where a few people Hansen knew did custom work on projects like this.
“I did a lot of research,” Hansen said. The truck was like (6ft-5) – the Ford Transit was very tall, so it was very tall and very tall. The guys who built it did a great job. There was a bed there was a fridge there was water I had a small shower head in the back If you wanted to. It had solar panels to power it.”
The van’s interior certainly feels like it belongs on the Hashtag Van Life influencer page: real wood paneling, a kitchenette with gas range and hex tile backsplashes, and a bed in the aft that fit comfortably in a 6-foot-3, 220-football NFL player.
Hansen took that truck on road trips across the American Southwest. Hansen said his favorite ride took him from the Grand Canyon to Moab, Utah, driving along scenic Utah Route 12—”one of the most beautiful trips I’ve ever had”—with stops at Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
At the Grand Canyon, Hansen parked the truck nearby near the ledge so he could open the back doors and enjoy the greatness.
He had no problem doing it full-time with the New Orleans Saints, but the team’s logic made sense to him: Loomis didn’t want the player who was returning from surgery to sleep in a truck.
So, Hansen lives in an apartment now. Life is still lived in an existing bubble. Those injuries he worried about had plagued him throughout his career, as he spent more time on the injured reserve than on the field. Last week, in his eighth game (including the playoffs), he made one tackle in 21 shots for a special team.
He no longer owned the truck, but kept it for as long as possible. His last moments came at the end of last season when he was on the long flight back home from New Orleans.
The truck reached Dallas before it broke down. He lived in a gas station parking lot for two days before he was able to drive. Then it collapsed again in New Mexico, and that was the last straw.
“Here’s the thing,” Hansen said. “So when I broke down, I was like, ‘Man, I can’t just jump in my car and leave. I can’t go home. I’m totally dependent on this truck.’”
However, he couldn’t resist the urge to rely on one again at some point.
Hansen flipped through the photos on his phone, looking at all the places he called home while living the truck life. There was a back car park at the Saints facility. There was a Valley of Fire in Nevada. There was a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon.
“I’ll get another one,” Hansen said. “Every time I look at the pictures, I say, ‘Ah, I want to do it again. “”