Hans Olsen is a complicated man. He's a guy who can go from being sarcastic to the point of near obnoxiousness one minute to being overly sentimental the next.

On the football field he's a giant with an ornery attitude who will do whatever it takes to win. But he also has a big heart and a soft spot for family and pets. He literally sobbed on the field in front of teammates, television cameras and thousands of fans moments after he had helped the Utah Blaze to a dramatic victory to clinch a playoff spot last May.

His emotions were so raw — and mixed — because his team had just reached a improbable goal the same day his family dog had passed away. He just couldn't stop thinking about that dog and how sad his children were about it. At the same time, he was rejoicing with teammates, thrilled with their collective success.

Olsen, who earned legendary status at BYU for being a character during his playing days in Provo from 1997-2000, has a wry sense of humor and a strong opinion on anything and everything. That has made him a media favorite over the years. If a reporter needs a good quote for a story or a soundbite for TV, just spend a few minutes with Hans.

So Hans, how are the Blaze looking so far during training camp?

"We're better looking as a group this year," he says with a straight face. "We're much more handsome. The ownership recognized that we had some uglier guys last year, and they did something about that. Of course, that's because our target audience is women from the age of 20 to 38."

Hans, after being on the Arena Football League's All-Ironman Team last year, you are going to concentrate on offense — instead of both offense and defense — this season. How do you feel about that?

"Unlike John Amaechi, I don't want to go both ways anymore," he responds without missing a beat.

Olsen's strong opinions and eagerness to work with the media allowed him to become a media member this offseason — both on radio and television. He was a regular fill-in co-host on 1280 AM (The Zone) as well as a pro football expert on SportsBeat Sunday on Channel 5.

"I have loved being part of the media. It's been an honor," said the Blaze center. "I'm going to try to distance myself from being a part of the media during the season, but the opportunities that have presented themselves to me have been great."

In fact, Olsen is looking to make broadcasting a full-time job when his playing days are over — just like his famous Uncle Merlin, who was one of the top NFL color commentators for years after his Hall of Fame playing days.

"I've got two, maybe three, years of playing left after this year — I'd love to stick around and be sort of an inside source in the media when it comes to football in this community," Olsen said. "I know what athletes think, and I can give inside information."

For now, though, Olsen is concentrating on playing football for the Blaze. He honestly feels this team has a chance to be a championship contender — and he's grateful for the opportunities football has opened up for him.

"I'm blessed," says Olsen. "I'm blessed to be able to play football and to have the ability to play a game for a living."

So for now, his budding broadcasting career will have to take a back seat to hiking the ball to Blaze QB Joe Germaine. But, not completely. Olsen says plans are in the works for him to have a weekly radio show about the Blaze.

And if the Blaze do make it to ArenaBowl XXI in New Orleans — and win — there may be more tears — but just tears of joy with no sad dog stories this time.


E-mail: lojo@desnews.com