Never underestimate the heart of a warrior. Jeff Chadwick who grew up in Michigan and was a high school track star attended Grand Valley State University. Chadwick was not drafted by an NFL team. Undeterred and clinging to his football dream, the Detroit Lions gave Chadwick a tryout. The rest as they say is history.
Joining the Detroit Lions wide receiver room in 1983, that already boasted NFL established players, Leonard Thompson, Mark Nichols, Freddie Scott and Robbie Martin. Jeff Chadwick would need to earn playing time. In the NFL nothing is just given to a player.
Little by little, game by game Chadwick saw his playing time increase. He became a reliable deep ball threat. Chadwick would also run across the middle of the field. In fact in his rookie season Chadwick amassed 40 receptions for 617 yards and four touchdowns.
1986 was statistically Jeff Chadwick’s best with the Lions, he had 53 receptions and 995 yards, Chadwick would go on to play for the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams, in a very solid NFL career.
Now days, Jeff Chadwick runs a football camp in Clare Michigan. Chadwick enlisted help from other former NFL players (many of which are former teammates) to help instruct and show children proper technique’s at all the different positions.
It is a valuable lesson for children. It has a larger impact due to former NFL players who played at the most elite level of football. Less than one percent of the population plays in the NFL.
Yet, with former NFL players getting down and dirty and sweating along with the children going through the same drills it allows the children to gain a lifetime of memories and allows them to dream about perhaps playing in the NFL one day.
Less than one percent of the American population get to experience being an NFL player. In the 1991 NFL draft, round 5 (118th overall) the Detroit Lions would make Scott Conover one of the less than one percent. His journey from the University of Purdue to Detroit was in and of itself curious and at the same time fascinating. While at Purdue Conover played mostly defensive end and then was switched to offensive guard.
The Detroit Lions drafted Scott Conover to help the teams offensive line, keep in mind when he was drafted Conover had just one year experience playing guard. Now he would be expected to do it on the most elite level of football, the NFL.
In the 1994 Lions season Scott Conover scored a receiving touchdown. Conover played six NFL seasons before retiring. He now spends a portion of his time helping with youth football camps.
Fellow Detroit Lions alum Jeff Chadwick, whom Conover did not have as a teammate yet know each other through various Lions events has a great youth football camp (July 13-14, 2022) is one of the youth camps that Conover attends with the intention of helping young athletes gain more knowledge of the ins and outs of football.
From small tips and pointers to large tips and pointers. Children of all ages gain a lot of useful information from Scott Conover. Conover is known at the camps to get down and dirty. He hits the pads and runs through the drills in hopes of showing children you never take it easy at any practice. Not to mention that it is a blessing and a gift to make the final cut and be on a team.
Children can learn a lot from a former NFL player who played defense in college and switched to offense at the tail end of his college career.
Jeff Chadwick, Lomas Brown, Luther Bradley, Scott Conover, Eric Hipple, Cory Schlesinger, George Jamison and Don Clemons. These are the former players and coach that made up the first Lions Legend Camp held in Clare Michigan. The camp was a huge success.
In the calm before the storm I was able to ask Jeff Chadwick a few questions about what has been the driving force behind starting a football camp with former NFL players teaching and encouraging middle and high school athletes. “I want to get kids off the devices,” Chadwick stated. “Teach kids hand eye coordination and help them understand training and just what it takes to play football.”
Photo by Erin Wallace
In today’s tech savvy world video games and smart phones rule many teenagers lives. While those games have a time and place. To be active and in structured sports helps bring kids the knowledge for how to get along with others and work together, not to mention how to be a good teammate and even a leader.
As they arrived the student athletes hands were marked with what position they play or are going to try out for. In my opinion what made the camp excel is that after being grouped by position the players rotated around and tried other positions. That can only help to bring a full understanding of what it means to be a team.
Former Detroit Lions players instructed the players as a group and also worked one on one with them. The student athletes ate up everything the players were telling them. As they should. It is not easy to get to the NFL. All the information handed out is a great benefit and you could see the players confidence grow as they applied what they were told.
On a side note, for former players who always seem to be busy to take time out of their schedules and away from family and pass on what made them successful was endearing.
The first Detroit Lions Legends football camp was a smashing success. It is a camp that will continue to grow. Jeff Chadwick and his outstanding support team should be proud. Just like training for a football season, the work Jeff and his team put in paid off.
Parents and coaches in and around Michigan should look into this camp for their children, players and teams.
Embed from Getty Images He stared at Grand Valley State University. A small school approximately 11-12 miles west of Grand Rapids Michigan. From 1979-1982 Jeff Chadwick a wide receiver caught 75 passes for 1,512 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was also a track star.
Then it happened. Never drafted by an NFL team Chadwick, played for 10 seasons and 126 games. The football gods must have been smiling as Jeff Chadwick would earn a roster spot for the in-state Detroit Lions in 1983.
He would play in Detroit from 1983-1992. Chadwick would also play for the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. His career stats totaled 4,549 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns.
Was Jeff Chadwick a HUGE star? No. That does not matter. You see for a 13 year old Detroit Lions fan Jeff Chadwick represented us. The regular guy. Who got a break and ran with it.
To make it even better he was a guy from Michigan who went on to play for the Lions. Giving all young kids the feeling that anything is possible. You do not need to be Herman Moore or Calvin Johnson. Those are two great Detroit receivers no question.
But for me it was easy to identify with Jeff Chadwick. He was me running around on the Pontiac Silverdome astroturf. Coming up with a clutch catch to keep a drive alive or scoring a touchdown. At least in my mind. That is what Chadwick allowed me and others to dream.
We read and hear a lot about legacies. How we remember this person or that person. For me I remember #89 for what he allowed me to do. Dream. Dream of thinking why not me?
It did not happen for me. God had other plans. But, still somewhere I still hold on to that dream. The legacy that Jeff Chadwick had and has is he gave us all a local man to root for and dreams to reach for.