Chris Spielman was a fearsome linebacker that played for the Lions, Bills, and Browns during the 80s and 90s. A tackling machine from Ohio State, he’s really remembered for his time in Detroit where he sucked up the middle of the field as Mike Cofer blanketed quarterbacks at OLB. A second round pick of the Lions during the 1988 draft, he’d be the 6th linebacker taken off the board, after Aundray Bruce went #1 overall.
After a rookie season that included a club rookie record 153 tackles, 7 blocked passes, and a fumble recovery, he’d be named defensive rookie of the year in 1988. Chris followed his 1988 season up with an equally impressive 1989, with another 125 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries, earning him his first starting Pro Bowl nod. Spielman wrangled in his second appearance by leading the Lions in tackles in 1990 (despite spending 4 weeks on injured reserve) with 108 tackles,2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and his first interception. 1991 culminated in an AP nod, as he lodged 126 tackles, a sack and 3 FFs. Despite leading the team in tackles in both 1992 and 1993 with 146 and 148 tackles respectively he didn’t get named back to the Pro Bowl until 1994 (124 tac, 3FF). 1995 saw a shift from left inside linebacker to middle linebacker for Chris, after the Lions converted to a 4-3, but he still managed to tally 90 tackles, 2 FF, 1 sack, and an interception.
Spielman signed with the Bills in 1996 and returned to his native position and true to form with 111 tackles. Injuries claimed half of Chris’ 1997 season and it’d be his last statistically. He’d attempt a comeback with the Browns in 1999 but elected to retire before the beginning of the season to take care of his wife who had been struck by breast cancer.
Of note, Chris is apparently one of the first high school athletes to appear on a Wheaties box, is the Lions’ All-Time leading tackler with 1,020 tackles, and is considered one of draft guru Mel Kiper’s more notorious misses.
Chris has climbed into the broadcasting booth since retirement and also as head coach of the Arena Football Columbus Destroyers in 2005. Spielman was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009, and has a foundation for Cancer research, that he dedicated to his wife, who passed away of breast cancer in 2009. He also has written a book about his time with her entitled: “That is Why I am Here”. You can visit his website at: http://chrisspielman.com/index.php
I wrote him last year after seeing some very short responses on sportscollectors.net for quite a few cards, so after I didn’t hear back from him after a few weeks I sorta gave up on this one. It was nice to finally get an autograph back from him 311 days later, but it disheartened me to see that he enclosed a pricing list. Apparently Chris has been getting a lot of requests, and can not honor them anymore for free. He has some very stringent rules on the mailings, but guarantees that they will be signed by him. You must also enclose $20.00, but thankfully since I sent mine last year, it didn’t apply to me, and he signed a card for free and returned the rest. Can’t knock a gift horse in the mouth though, and the fact remains that he was a player that I wanted, and happy to add to my Hall of Fame.
G/Gs 148/148 Tac 1181 Sac 10.5 Fum 13 Int 6 Yds 36 Avg 6.0 Td 0 lg 13