Chris Spielman is a 4-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, Lombardi Award Winner, and College Football Hall of Famer. After being taken by the Detroit Lions with the 29th overall pick in the 1988 draft out of Ohio State, he played 10 seasons in the NFL. Since retiring in 1999, Spielman has worked as a broadcaster, coach, and now executive. Since 2020, he has worked for the Lions as a Special Assistant to the President/CEO and Chairperson.
We caught up with Chris for this week’s Friday Five…
1) Who is your biggest mentor?
I’m a faith-based guy and a Christian, so God is my biggest mentor as far as how I try to to lead my life. Aside from that, I don’t have one specific mentor. I have people that I look at that I admire — that I connect with. I look at what people do or don’t do well and always try to tell my kids that I try to learn lessons from everybody’s experiences. So in that way, I would say the world is my biggest mentor. From politics, to business, to athletics, to teaching, I think about how people conduct themselves and I try to write down what I like and write down what I dislike.
2) What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your post-NFL career?
Well, probably dealing with the loss of a wife. She was 42. And just kind of dealing with that and being a single dad for a few years. And then marrying another wonderful lady and melding the family. All of that has been the biggest challenge of my post-playing career. Fortunately, it has worked out better than I ever thought it would. To make it work like we work, I’d also consider it my biggest success of my post-playing career.
3) Your brother Rick worked as a scout with Detroit while you were there as a player. What was that like?
It was the same as when I was in TV and he was a General Manger in that I respected his boundaries and he respected mine. We are the only two, so we’re very close. We’re best friends. But, when you have best friends and you are very close, the one thing you do is you respect what the other person does. So I really made sure to never put him in a position that would make him feel awkward, nor would he ever ask me to do anything that would put me in an awkward position. I enjoyed seeing him around the facility, but for most of the time while we were together in Detroit, he was on the road.
4) What advice would you give your younger self?
I used to always look for what was next and I was never satisfied or content. I always wanted more, so I was always competing more, pushing more, and I never really stopped to enjoy the ride as much as I probably should have.
5) If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?
Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and St. Paul.
Reagan and Obama saw the world personally and politically in two different ways and I’d love to hear them talk about it. I think I could learn lessons from both of them.
St. Paul, he basically wrote all the letters in the New Testament, and it would be interesting to see how he stayed the course after all the trials and tribulations he went through. I think those three people would be very, very fascinating to sit down and chat with.