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Greg the American footballer

His dream came true, now he is following it from
another point of view.

For Greg Hanoian there is nothing in life like American football. It was in his genes already from the start. He reached all the way to play in one of the world’s biggest leagues, and after years away from playing he is pushing his boundaries again, running full speed towards his dreams.

Even if it wasn’t the safest sport to play at the age of 10, that didn’t stop Greg Hanoian from playing American football.

“My dad played in college so I was very inspired by him. I loved the game and found it really enjoyable, both to play, and to watch,” says Greg Hanoian, former professional player and today an American football referee.

American football is a team game with 11 players at each side of a rectangular field. You use an oval-shaped ball which you are allowed to pass or run forward; the aim is to reach the opposing team’s goal line to get points.

“It is almost like a game of chess where you need to be extremely good at strategy; you constantly have to rethink and reform.”

After playing his way through high school, Greg managed to get a scholarship to keep on playing combined with studies at Syracuse University, where he stayed for five years. He was chasing a childhood dream to play in the National Football League (NFL).

“It is not an easy mission, there are so many talents who try but few people actually get there. You need people who truly believe in you and are willing to give you a chance,” explains Greg.

But Greg did have his believers, and made it to the NFL in 2005. First stop was Detroit Lions, and after that he was with Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Rhein Fire and Kansas City Chiefs.

“It is a wild environment where you are in one day and the next day you are out. You are always judged; think of it as a job where you could get fired any day if you do not perform. But you know what? I loved that, it got me really excited to always bring my very best to the field,” says Greg.

In his opinion, there is nothing in life like American football. The lows are low but the highs are high, but the fulfillment is like nothing else.

“You have to be super focused on the game. On the field it is man to man and who wins all depends on your inner will. How much you are mentally committed to run full speed into someone else from 5-10 yards away. It is one of the most unnatural things to do where our brains are programmed to avoid contact at all costs. It is an enjoyable mental struggle!” explains Greg.

The most amazing memory from the years he played is the strong connection he got with the other people on the team.

“It is all those things happening outside the field. We went through really good times and really bad times together and grew close, just like a family. Some of the people I played with are still my closest friends.”

In 2007, Greg got injured and his arm was paralyzed. He couldn’t play anymore that season and after that his career as a player was basically over. He started to focus on other things in life for a few years; he and his wife had two daughters and he started working as a sales representative at Getinge. But there was something missing.

“Outside my work at Getinge I started reffing to stay in American football. I had really missed the game and even though I was not playing anymore I still got a lot out of it. There are five referees in each game and there is a reason we are often called the third team on the field; playing and reffing go hand in hand. This way I also get to give something back to the sport that has given me so much, and I have a lot of fun.”

Right now, Greg refs high school football. But he is extremely goal oriented and his mind is determined – he is going back to NFL someday.

“Every step I take as a referee is one step closer towards reffing in the NFL. I am always studying rules and reffing as many games as possible to become better. When you want something it is not just about getting there though, the journey itself is equally important. As with any great achievement there will have to be some sacrifices made, my family is so supportive and I am happy they encourage me to keep following my dreams.”