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A Tale of Two Linebackers and Rivals All the Way

Percy Snow grew up in the city that houses the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio. He attended Canton McKinley High School.

A short distance away, Chris Spielman was growing up in Massillon, Ohio and he spent his high school years at Massilon Washington High School.

There may not be a bigger high school football rivalry in the country than Massillon Washington versus Canton McKinley. Over the decades, they have played 127 times with Washington High

School holding the overall edge.

This is one high school football rivalry that is on my bucket list.

Spielman is a couple of years older than Snow and they played the same position so they didn’t square off on the field directly. It’s possible that one, or the other of them, played both ways but it’s not likely since these schools are big time.

During Spielman’s junior and senior seasons, the Washington Tigers beat the McKinley Bulldogs, 7-0 and 18-7 respectively. Washington finished the 1982 football season with a 10-0 record and the 1983 season with a 9-1 record.

Chris Spielman was the first high school athlete to have his photo on the Wheaties box. I actually owned that box before it mysteriously disappeared a few years ago.

Supposedly, Spielman wanted to go to Michigan, until his father put his foot down and insisted it was Ohio State. That probably doesn’t make Buckeye fans feel all that great.

Spielman honored his father’s wishes and became a starter as a true freshman in 1984 and a four year starter in Columbus. Many consider him the greatest Linebacker in the history of the Ohio State which is saying a lot.

With Spielman out of the Rivalry game, Snow’s McKinley High School won the games in 1984, 17-6, and in 1985, 21-6.

Percy Snow signed with Michigan State out of high school. The Spartans are not on the same level as Michigan as far as the Ohio State rivalry, but they are still rivals.

Ohio State and Michigan State did not even play in 1986. After losing their first 2 games that season, the Buckeyes won every other game they played except for the most important one, the Michigan game.

Spielman picked off 6 passes that season, while making consensus All American.

Spielman was a consensus All American again in 1987, but it was not a good year for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Included in their 4 losses was a 7-13 beating from Michigan State and Percy Snow.

Spielman won the Lombardi Award that season while losing the Butkus to Florida State’s Paul McGowan.

 

The Michigan State Spartans were a rare winner of the Big 10 that season and they edged USC in the Rose Bowl, 20-17.

 

Spielman was picked in the second round by the Detroit Lions in the 1988 NFL Draft, while Snow had two more years remaining.

But, Rose Bowl trips were over with for Snow. The Spartans finished 6-5-1 in 1988 and 8-4 in 1989. Snow did win the coveted Lombardi and Butkus awards and then he became a first round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Chris Spielman was a 3 time All Pro and a 4 time Pro Bowler while playing 11 seasons in the NFL. Even though, Percy Snow as picked in the first round, he did not have the same kind of success. He did have a good rookie campaign, but he was injured on a scooter before his second season which messed up his knee and he was never the same after that. He lasted a few more years and then tried the World League with the Rhein Fire.

These two Linebackers were rivals in high school and then again in college football. It’s really too bad that Percy Snow wasn’t picked by the Chicago Bears, or the Minnesota Vikings, or the Green Bay Packers so he could have been a rival with Chris Spielman in the NFL as well.

It’s even more unfortunate that he injured his knee so severely that he never lived up to his potential at the highest level.

Chris Spielman went on to become one of the better college football color commentators and recently moved up to the same position on NFL broadcasts.

Other than losing his wife to breast cancer, he has had an almost perfect life.