We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.
Charles Christopher Spielman, born on October 11, 1965, had a remarkable career as a linebacker in the NFL and college. He played for the Ohio State Buckeyes in college, earning All-American honors twice. Spielman played for the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns in the NFL, achieving three-time All-Pro status. He also served as a coach for the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Football League. Spielman became well-known as a broadcaster, working for Fox Sports and ESPN from 1999 to 2020.
Spielman's football journey began at Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio, where he was honored with the Dial Award for the national high-school scholar-athlete of the year in 1983. He made history by becoming the first high school athlete to have his picture featured on a box of Wheaties. Despite initially desiring to attend the University of Michigan, Spielman's father, a devoted Ohio State Buckeyes fan, strongly discouraged the idea. As a result, Spielman enrolled at Ohio State, where he became a two-time All-American linebacker. He intercepted 11 passes during his college career and was recognized with the Lombardi Award. Spielman's excellence on the field earned him the Ohio State football team MVP title in his senior year and the Touchdown Club of Columbus's Chic Harley Award. He graduated from Ohio State with a degree in recreation education.
In the 1988 NFL Draft, Spielman was selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round with the 29th overall pick. He played eight seasons for the Lions, leading the team's defense to four playoff appearances, two NFC Central titles, and a spot in the 1991 NFC Championship Game. Spielman holds the franchise record for career tackles with 1,020 and made significant contributions with 10 sacks, four interceptions, 30 pass defenses, 13 forced fumbles, and 17 fumble recoveries. He was chosen for four Pro Bowls and named the team's defensive MVP in 1993 and 1994. Spielman also had stints with the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns, although his playing time was cut short due to a neck injury that required spinal surgery.
After retiring from professional football, Spielman ventured into broadcasting. He started as an NFL studio-show analyst for Fox Sports Net in 1999 and later joined ESPN in 2001. Spielman primarily served as a color analyst for college football broadcasts and became a well-known voice in the industry. He also made appearances on radio shows and hosted his own show, Spielman on Sports. In 2016, Spielman joined Fox NFL coverage as a game analyst, working alongside notable broadcasters like Dick Stockton and Thom Brennaman.
Beyond his playing and broadcasting careers, Spielman made contributions as a coach and executive. He coached the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Football League. In December 2020, Spielman was hired by the Detroit Lions as a special assistant to the chairman and president/CEO. In this role, he played a significant part in important personnel decisions and worked closely with the team's management.
Stefanie, Spielman’s first wife, showed immense strength throughout her multiple bouts with cancer, and Chris supported her by actively raising funds for breast cancer research. Tragically, Stefanie passed away in 2009. In 2013, Spielman married Carrie Yocom and adopted her two daughters. They currently reside in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Chris Spielman's legacy in football, both as a player and a broadcaster, remains a testament to his dedication, resilience, and passion for the sport.