This week, thanks to skewering Jerry Jones for the Cowboys owner's national anthem hypocrisy — after demanding his players stand for the song, Jones left his hat on during a training camp rendition — WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen went viral.
It wasn't the first time either. Hansen's commentaries on subjects ranging from gay Missouri star Michael Sam's difficulty breaking into the NFL to the July 7, 2016, police ambush in Dallas become social media obsessions a couple of times a year now, it seems, thanks to Hansen's potent writing and obvious empathy. After calling out Jones, The Washington Post jumped on the Hansen train, leading to an insightful interview.
Here are some highlights:
1. Hansen's daughter and granddaughter inspired him to start using his platform to support progressive values.
"We’ve gone from Democrats to Republicans from liberals to conservatives from war hawks to doves. The economy bounces up and down, and we go to war and we don’t go to war. That’s why I just took on this approach of, 'Well, I’m just going to make a check and have fun and live my life and do my job and talk sports, and the rest of it just doesn’t matter.'
"And then as I got a little bit older, when my daughter, who is married to a black man, had had my granddaughter, I started seeing what people would do to her, and what my own parents said about my granddaughter, and what my ex-wife said about my granddaughter. I then started slowly evolving back into somebody who has to speak up. I think I’ve recaptured my passion."
2. Hansen believes more liberals are in Texas than one might think at first glance.
"Somehow, someway, even during the Reagan years, people weren’t embarrassed to say they were liberal. Now it’s used as an insult. Nixon had the silent majority. I think in many ways that we liberals now are the silent majority. I think there are a great many people out there who are afraid to raise their voice because they’ll be called a liberal."
3. At first, Hansen says, he resisted offering his thoughts on Dallas' July 2016 police shooting.
"It felt awkward as hell, and then as I’m driving to work, I swear to you, this light bulb goes off. When that shooting started, I was at my desk with my feet up on my desk watching the Rangers game and they were being shut out in like the fifth inning, and then all hell broke loose in my city. And that’s how I started the piece. I said, 'I was sitting at my desk last night watching the Rangers getting shut out in the fifth inning, and then all hell broke loose in my city,' and then I wrote this entire piece. And I finished with, 'The Rangers lost last night, 7-2, and I’m almost embarrassed to tell you I know that.'"
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4. Going viral the first time — after the Sam commentary — came as a big surprise.
"It’s kind of embarrassing to say this maybe, but I had no idea what 'viral' meant. I didn’t know how it worked. And I actually said to someone, 'How big an antenna do these son-of-a-bitches have?' I mean, they’re seeing this in California and Toronto and Australia and London, and it all came from a commentary that I kind of liked and I thought it had some good lines in it and made a pretty good argument. But I also didn’t think that one would have the impact that it has."
5. Hansen hasn't voted since casting a ballot for Jimmy Carter in the 1976 Iowa caucuses. That's changing this fall.
"I’m going to start again. Because I was wrong. I wanted the perfect candidate, and I didn’t want to be the guy who voted for the lesser of two evils. But I’ve learned that when you don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, sometimes the more evil guy wins."