Hall of Fame experience fun for coach
Basehor-Linwood High School strength and conditioning coach Ross Schwisow was one of thousands of Kansas City Chiefs and NFL fans that witnessed the induction of six men into the Professional Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 8, in Canton, Ohio.
Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas headlined the list.
Schwisow grew up a Thomas fan, recalling the seven-sack game he had against Seattle in 1991and the irony that, while it was a great individual effort, the Chiefs still lost the game.
Like so many fans, Schwisow came to witness Thomas’ induction.
He listened as former Chiefs President and General Manager Carl Peterson gave the induction speech that Chiefs fans have long awaited.
“Today, we say, Derrick this is your day, along with your classmates of 2009. You have earned this day because of the way you played our great game of football. You deserve this one last, wonderful honor. And all of us that knew you, celebrates this day with you and your family,” Peterson said in his speech. “For all Derrick Thomas fans, the light has gone back on. And it will burn brightly in the community of Kansas City, in the middle of America, and it will also burn here very brightly in the shrine to pro football, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. And it will burn forever.”
Schwisow said he thought Peterson, who lost favor with a lot of Chiefs fans in recent years and resigned last season, did a nice job with the speech.
Of all the speeches, Randall McDaniel’s meant the most to Schwisow. McDaniel spoke about his two professions, first as a lineman and now a teacher, comparing the two professions.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have two passions in my life. The first was football, the second was education,” McDaniel said in his speech. “I do find many similarities between playing on the offensive line and working in the classroom. On the line, you have a bunch of regular guys who bring their lunch pails to work and do a tough job without much fanfare or glory. They pretty much go unnoticed unless something goes wrong. And yet, if they weren’t there, nothing else would be possible.
“Life as an educator is quite similar. You bring your lunch pail to work. You do an extremely tough job without much fan fare or glory, and like an offensive lineman, you typically go unnoticed unless something goes wrong. And yet, without teachers, nothing much would be possible. I think that’s why I feel so comfortable in the classroom. I get to work in the trenches again.”
Schwisow, who teaches and coaches at Basehor-Linwood, said he could relate to the speech.
“I think the biggest thing I took from it, I like to share, is that it’s interesting to see what players do with themselves when they’re done (playing),” he said. “That is one thing I will be telling our kids that as much as athletics is a part of high school, don’t let it be who you are, but have athletics be part of you and make you become something.”
While the trip to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a great experience for Schwisow, there also was a brief — but humorous — moment when his safety was in danger.
He was walking in Canton when a familiar voice yelled out to him, alerting him to move.
He recognized the voice, quickly scurrying out the way as Pro Football Hall of Famer, broadcasting legend and video game mogul John Madden looked on from his approaching golf cart.
“John Madden just about ran me over in his golf cart,” Schwisow recalled with a laugh.
After the near collision, the two then men talked. Schwisow shook Madden’s hand, which Schwisow said was kind of neat.
Schwisow also met other NFL stars during the trip and said it was neat to watch all these athletes interact during the ceremony.
Now back at BLHS, Schwisow is again working with high school athletes as they begin their fall sports seasons.