Best Effort

For Chris Spielman, there's nothing less

Ohio State University gridiron great Chris Spielman has always taken intensity to another level - a level that many people have never known or experienced. For instance, Spielman's off-season workouts to stay in shape for the football season are legendary and indicative of his drive to succeed.

Training on his own in the summer, Spielman, would run until he nearly dropped. Then he would don a plastic workout suit and sit in his car with the windows rolled up. Oh, and the heater was blasting. Spielman drove around in the car as long as he could take the heat, literally.

Asked where he thought up the workout, Spielman, who spoke last week at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation's Conference and Show in Columbus, said he has always lived by the mantra, "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle." Abiding by those words, Spielman says he was always thinking of ways to mentally push himself.

"I always thought that my preparation would be so demanding that the game itself would be easy," said Spielman, a two-time All-American linebacker who spent 11 seasons in the NFL and was voted to the Pro Bowl four times.

The title of Spielman's talk, not surprisingly, was "Living With a Passion." These days, Spielman's passion is promoting cancer awareness in honor of his late wife, Stefanie, who died in 2009 after battling cancer for 11 years. The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research has raised more than $10 million. Spielman recently wrote a book, "That's Why I'm Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story," which traces his football career as well as Stefanie's battle with cancer.

Spielman, arguably one of the toughest people ever to play the game, didn't talk about all of his accolades. He talked about love, as in loving your neighbor. It was a brilliant speech.

But in his quest to achieve perfection, Spielman has always tried to retain his humility. He says it was a privilege for him to play football.

"When you keep that perspective - as opposed to looking at it as it being a privilege for the game to have me in it - it keeps you grounded," he said.