Courtesy of MCT
Former Ohio State football linebacker Chris Spielman has two great loves in his life: his passion for football and his love for his late wife, Stefanie, who died from breast cancer Nov. 29, 2009.
As Chris Spielman writes in his book, his love for his wife trumps his love for football, and you’ll read as much in the decorated former Buckeye, NFL player and ESPN analyst’s debut as an author in “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”
Chris Spielman’s easily digested 224 page book, which is co-authored by ESPN colleague and friend Bruce Hooley and includes a foreword by daughter Madison Spielman, is equal parts reflection on his football career as well as his journey through cancer treatment with Stefanie Spielman.
During a Thursday interview, Chris Spielman told The Lantern he hatched the idea for the book with Hooley six months before Stefanie Spielman’s death.
“When I found out she was terminal, you start reflecting on not only the cancer journey, but also your life and how you got to this point,” Chris Spielman said. “I sat with my good friend (Hooley), who I was doing a radio show with at the time, and we would meet (daily), probably, six months out before Stef died and we… just put thoughts down. And we put it together and that’s how the book was born.”
Chris Spielman’s fans in Buckeye Nation and across NFL cities can rest assured knowing they’ll get the football anecdotes they seek from the College Football Hall of Fame inductee and four-time NFL Pro Bowler.
“Football is a big part of my life, so the football part of the book is there,” Chris Spielman said, “because (the book) is the first time I ever really sat out and looked back and analyzed my career from high school to Little League to the NFL. And then (the book) got to the point when cancer came, how do we react? So, it all kind of intertwined.”
Amongst the great peaks and low valleys that come with being both the devoted husband of a terminally ill cancer patient – Chris Spielman took a year off from professional ball to be with his ailing wife – and a professional athlete, he also speaks of the faith that carried him through it all in the book.
Chris Spielman said that, at points in his life, football was his sole focus. When tough times came, faith in God pulled him through. The Spielman family’s reliance on faith is also reflected in the book.
“It’s apparent that I’ve never hidden what I believe, but I also – and Stef never – imposed our belief on anyone,” Chris Spielman said. “But we certainly exposed it to everyone, and it was key in our process of dealing with cancer and key in our process of Stef and key in the process of continuing to live and prosper.”
As far as his on-going relationship with OSU, Chris Spielman said that he still loves his alma mater, a university he said stands for something more than football.
“The community has been awesome,” Chris Spielman said, “and you don’t have to be alumni or a current student or employee of Ohio State to be a part of that. I’ve always considered people that live in the state of the Ohio all consider themselves Buckeyes. That’s what’s unique about our university. (OSU) has been very, very supportive throughout the years.”
A self-proclaimed “big Urban Meyer” fan, Chris Spielman said he plans to make it over to Ohio Stadium for Saturday’s OSU football Spring Game, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m.
After attending OSU’s open spring practice Wednesday, Chris Spielman said he liked the tempo of Meyer’s practice routine, but said the wide receiver position should be an area of concern for the Buckeyes.
“The receiver position is where Ohio State needs to be more consistent, but there’s plenty of time to work on that skill,” Chris Spielman said.
Before getting to the ‘Shoe to take in Meyer’s OSU Spring Game coaching debut, Chris Spielman said he wants to mingle with fans, medical caretakers and cancer survivors at a book signing for “That’s Why I’m Here,” at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 1596 N. High St.
“I’m looking forward to hanging out with fans, caretakers and cancer survivors and sharing stories,” Chris Spielman said.
The book signing will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.