Spielman Brothers Played 'Pain Games' as Lions Teammates

Chris and Rick Spielman were teammates for a brief period of time with the Detroit Lions.

There is no better representation of what type of player new head coach Dan Campbell is looking for than Lions special assistant Chris Spielman. 

As a player, Spielman was tough, rugged and the ultimate teammate. 

When the organization was looking to pivot away from the culture created by the last regime, they quickly turned to a familiar name.

When Spielman was in preparation for his new role with Detroit, he sought counsel from more than 100 other people, but his brother and Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was the right person to give the best prospective on what he was about to embark on with the Lions organization. 


In a recent feature in The Athletic, stories emerged from the time both Chris and Rick were on the Lions roster prior to the official start of the 1988 NFL season. 

The brothers naturally decided to live together in a dorm room at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

"Of course, there was competition," writer Dan Pompei explained. "They each put an entire can of chewing tobacco in their mouths to see who could go the longest without spitting or vomiting. The insides of their mouths tingled and burned and streams of brown saliva ran down their chins -- it was apparent both were losers in that one."

"They created “pain games,” like testing tolerance by hitting the other’s forearm with two fingers as hard as possible repeatedly. They did the same by punching one another in the arm."

Unfortunately, Rick was cut and did not make the Lions roster, but has gone on to a solid career as an NFL executive. 

For Chris, the goal is now to work with the Lions new front office regime to create a similar winning culture as some of the best run organizations in the National Football League. 

"Everybody has to understand the direction that we're going. Everybody has to know what our culture is, and we can't waver from that culture," Spielman said at his introductory press conference. "Everybody has to know, 'OK, what type of character do we want in the building, from everybody on down, everybody understands how the head coach and general manager have to be in unison.' Now they can fight and argue, which is healthy, but I'll tell you this, if I have any say, there's going to be unity. It's not going to be an us versus them. You can't build a winning culture in us versus them."

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