Chris Spielman will forever have a place among the Detroit Lions greats.
The Lions will induct Spielman into their “Pride of the Lions,” which honors the best players in franchise history, at the team’s Oct. 31 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The Detroit Lions could not be prouder of Chris Spielman’s accomplishments on the field and in the community,” Lions president Rod Wood said in a statement released by the team. “He was pivotal to the success the team enjoyed during his time as a player and his induction into the Pride of the Lions cements his place in our history.”
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Spielman was informed of the honor via teleprompter, as he was tasked with reading a promo for the game against the Eagles, according to a video released by the franchise. As he read a list of accomplishments and realized they were describing him, Spielman paused and said, “What’re you guys doing here, man?” He then became visibly emotional as Wood and team owner Sheila Ford Hamp emerged from behind a curtain to finish reading the announcement.
A four-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Spielman played eight seasons in Detroit from 1988-95, when he was the defining defensive player for the franchise.
He logged more than 1,300 tackles during his 10-year NFL career, playing his final two seasons for the Buffalo Bills, and led the league with 195 stops in 1994.
Known for his toughness and tenacity as a player, Spielman rejoined the Lions as special assistant to Wood and Hamp in December, when he helped run the organization’s coach and general manager searches.
His role has evolved in recent months.
He traveled on the road to some college pro days before April’s NFL draft. He was one of 10 people in the Lions’ draft room on draft day. And he has been a fixture on the field at Lions practices, where he often works with inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone.
“He’s the best,” DeLeone said last month. “I think for me, he’s a lot of things. He’s a friend, he’s a resource. He’s somebody who I count on day in and day out as somebody I can talk to, cause there are certain players who no matter what era they played in, could play. Like, Chris is one of those guys, man. He understands the linebacker position.”
Spielman is the 19th player inducted the Pride of the Lions, and joins his former teammates Herman Moore and Jason Hanson, plus defensive lineman Roger Brow, as the only non-Hall-of-Famers with that distinction.
In 2018, the Lions inducted Moore, Brown and Alex Karras into the Pride of the Lions.
“Anytime you are recognized for an individual award, as a part of a team-oriented pursuit, your immediate thoughts go to your family, teammates, coaches and all of the people in the organization,” Spielman said in a statement released by the team. “My time as a player was defined by these great relationships I forged, and I realize that they are the biggest reason for any success I may have had. It truly was an honor to represent Lions fans around the world, the city of Detroit and every Lions player past, present and future for eight great seasons.”