Former Ohio State great Chris Spielman auctions Big Ten title ring for coronavirus relief
One of the lasting memories from Chris Spielman’s freshman season at Ohio State in 1984 is appearing in college football’s most famous bowl game.
The Buckeyes met Southern California in the Rose Bowl.
“We lost unfortunately,” Spielman said, “but the whole experience was amazing. I was an 18-year-old kid starting in a Rose Bowl. I mean, come on. That was amazing. That's the memory for me.”
Their bowl berth was owed to a perfect November stretch when the Buckeyes won their final three conference games to capture the Big Ten title.
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For 35 years, the All-America linebacker kept a prized keepsake from the season, a Big Ten championship ring.
But as the coronavirus pandemic spreads throughout the United States, Spielman has opted to give it up.
He sold the ring for $12,000 during an auction on eBay over the weekend, with the proceeds to be donated toward people affected by the outbreak.
“My faith requires sacrificial giving,” said Spielman, who is Catholic. “If I'm going to preach that to my family, then I better be darn sure that I'm practicing it. Sometimes it hurts a little bit, but I don't need to have the memorabilia. I still have the memories.”
Through auctioning additional memorabilia, including an autographed, game-worn jersey and an All-Madden Team leather jacket from his 10-year NFL career, Spielman hopes to raise $40,000 for relief.
He plans to give away $1,000 over 40 weeks to those in need of financial assistance. He settled on the number 40 due to its biblical significance.
The itch to help came weeks ago.
As a statewide “stay-at-home” order was implemented by Gov. Mike DeWine, a step that public health officials say is needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, businesses shut down.
Restaurants, retail stores, hair salons, gyms and other shops deemed to be “nonessential” are closed, resulting in record unemployment.
On a podcast he hosts with veteran journalist Bruce Hooley, Spielman heard from listeners who were out of work and started giving away about $400 a week.
But they felt they could do more and, as Spielman put it, “raise some real money.”
Spielman then put his memorabilia, including the 1984 Big Ten championship ring, up for auction.
“This is a lot more valuable sitting on somebody else's mantle as opposed to sitting on mine,” he said.
In a tweet on Saturday, he said he had reached almost $19,000 and plans to sell off other gear this week to further the fundraising effort.
“What resonates with me is that God has given me an ability to do something and not just sit and do nothing,” Spielman said. “I have to do something. I have the ability and means to help. So I'm not going to just sit and not do anything. That goes against everything that my faith teaches. Faith without deeds is a faith that's dead.”
Spielman has a history of philanthropy in central Ohio.
He has raised more than $23 million for a breast cancer research fund at Ohio State started in honor of his late wife, Stefanie. She died from the disease in 2009.
In order to find people impacted by the pandemic, Spielman and Hooley ask listeners to direct them to people in need.
The nominations include a description of their situation.
Then they pick four or five people each week to support, an effort that will continue to be funded by proceeds from auctioned gear.