One show, two Spielmans.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his brother, FOX analyst and former Lions linebacker Chris Spielman, joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football in studio on Friday.
The Spielman brothers described their time as high school teammates in Massillon, Ohio, revisited a sibling slugfest at Ohio State and became teammates again in a GMFB game of “Turnover” challenge against host Kyle Brandt and guest host Jane Slater.
“I don’t think there was necessarily a sibling rivalry,” said Chris, who is nearly three years younger than Rick. “I think there was a point where I was his fan, and Rick was my biggest fan.
“I had some success really early,” Chris added. “Some of the upper classmen used to get upset with me or be a little bit jealous, and I remember Rick actually coming and taking out an upper classman who took a cheap shot on me, so that’s that big brother pride. I don’t know that there was a sibling rivalry. I think there was a sibling protection.”
The talk then transitioned to the campus of Ohio State, where Rick was a graduate assistant and Chris was a prospect eventually drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Rick relayed a “TV version” of an anecdote but only after getting in a zinger of sorts.
“Even though we were very supportive of each other, and as you know, Chris was born with the instincts and change of direction, and I was born with the hair but no instincts or change of direction,” Rick said.
“I was a GA at Ohio State, and all of these coaches were coming in and working him out all of the time. We always pushed each other in a positive way,” Rick said. “I was always a bit faster than him straight ahead, and he was always stronger and had more change of direction. It was Dick LeBeau and Hank Bullough who came to work Chris out. They had us do what they called a broad jump where you had three [leaps] in a row to cover 10 yards.
“Chris went first, and he was about 9,” Rick continued. “I went and was already at about 7-and-a-half on my second, so I’m like, ‘I’m going to beat him again.’ As I was in mid-air, Chris came and clotheslined me, knocked me on my rear end.”
The incident, Rick said, showed the “type of competitor” Chris was.
Now, there are occasions when Chris is in the broadcast booth for games in which the Vikings play.
Slater asked how the Spielmans balance their brotherhood and individual business.
“I think you’re so locked in when you’re doing games, that they’re just two different teams,” Chris said. “It’s easier to do those games because I do the Lions preseason games and of course I know the Vikings as well as any team. If anything, I’m more critical of those teams. It doesn’t matter because whatever team loses, I’m the reason that team lost because I’m the one that missed the tackle or blew the coverage or made the wrong call.”
Rick explained, “I understand he has a job to do and I have a job to do. Part of his job and your job is to critique what we do. That’s part of the business and what we sign up for. Just like when our father coached us in high school, he was a lot more critical of us than maybe the other players.
“I would never ask him, ever, and he’s never asked me, for inside information on anything,” Rick added. “We would never put the integrity of our jobs on the line.”