Humbled by Own Hall-of-Fame Honor, Wistrom Praises Suh's Work Ethic
A 1997 Lombardi Award winner, Wistrom was presented with a plaque Saturday by the National Football Foundation. The plaque will hang on Nebraska's Hall of Fame Wall with 19 others outside the Huskers' locker room.
Introduced during the second quarter of the Iowa State game, Wistrom said the cheers were so warm and appreciative that he had to fight back tears.
"It's always awesome to come back here, but this is really humbling," Wistrom said. "It's hard not to get emotional when the greatest fans in the country honor you like this."
Wistrom's wife, Melissa, had the same problem checking her emotions and said her husband's Hall of Fame honor has moved him emotionally like no other award, including his two first-team All-America honors, Academic All-America award and two Big 12 Player-of- the-Year awards.
A 1997 captain and a key contributor to the greatest four-year record in Nebraska football history (49-2 with three national championships), watching Saturday's loss was not easy for Wistrom.
But he still saw something that impressed him . . . the relentless effort of Husker All-America defensive tackle candidate Ndamukong Suh.
"Without evaluating film, I thought he played well. He was all over the field," Wistrom said of Suh. "I thought he showed up a lot out there. I'm not a voter, but I definitely think he shows what it takes to win a major award.
"Very few defensive linemen can take control of a game the way that he does," Wistrom said. "He's a good young man and seems to have his head on straight. You can talk all you want about the big plays he makes, but what impresses me most are the tackles he makes downfield."
To Wistrom, that's what separates Suh from other great players. "Getting downfield is something I think is missing from a lot of very talented football players," Wistrom said. "It's called drive and work ethic, and that's something Suh does not lack. He certainly knows how to play with intensity."
That analysis comes from one of the most intense players in Nebraska history.
Wistrom still holds NU's school record for tackles for loss with 58.5 (for 260 yards) and ranks second in Husker history with 26.5 sacks. He is Nebraska's first player to join the College Football Hall of Fame since Mike Rozier was inducted in 2006.
In the NFL, Wistrom started 118 games in nine seasons, including six for eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis and three for Seattle, which also reached the Super Bowl while he was starting. While in Seattle, Wistrom launched the Grant Wistrom Foundation to help pediatric cancer patients like Kendall Chalmers, a young Husker fan he met while playing for Nebraska.
To watch Wistrom describe his Hall of Fame honor, click the arrow in the photo above.