Legendary Detroit Lions linebacker Chris Spieman is the subject of “A Football Life”, a television series that airs on the NFL Network. On Wednesday October 31st, football fans and viewers alike will have a chance to see how Spielman had such a prolific football career. Fans will also see the caring and loving family man who stood by his wife’s side with her battle with cancer.
The television special follows up Spielman’s book that was released earlier this year. Spielman helped write “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris & Stefanie Spielman Story” to tell the personal story of his family’s struggle with cancer. Stefanie Spielman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, which led to Chris taking a year off from the NFL. Stefanie’s cancer, along with football injuries, would lead to Chris walking away from the sport he loved.
Born in Canton, Ohio, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Spielman blossomed into one of the best defensive players in college and professional football in the last twenty years. After winning the Lombardi Award while attending Ohio State University, the Lions drafted Spielman in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft.
Spielman helped lead the Lions to four playoff appearances in eight years. The team won the NFC Central two times behind defensive captain Spielman. The Lions were led by Spielman in the eight seasons he spent in Detroit. Spielman recorded 195 tackles in the 1994 season, which is the most by any Lions player in team history. Spielman was also selected to play in four Pro Bowls.
After eight years in Detroit, Spielman also played for the Buffalo Bills (1996, 1997) and Cleveland Browns (1999). Spielman suffered an injury in 1997, which led to spinal surgery and an eight game shortened season for the linebacker. Around this time, Spielman suffered one of the biggest issues he ever had to tackle when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Spielman would sit out the entire 1998 season to be with his wife. The following year, Spielman would play with the Browns, before eventually retiring and focusing on campaigning for breast cancer awareness. Spielman gave up the thing he loved the most in his life for the person he loved. Spielman’s sacrifice will be portrayed in the Wednesday night movie. Spielman currently serves as a College Football analyst on ESPN.