Faces in the Crowd: Jeff Chadwick

April 19, 2019

by Gene Bodnar

The Executive Director of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, Damon DuBois, recommended that I interview Jeff Chadwick, a former professional football player. I contacted Jeff on Facebook, and he agreed to an interview at the Pere Marquette District Library a couple of days later.


Jeff was born in Detroit in 1960 but was raised in Dearborn Heights, a suburb of Detroit. He attended Divine Child High School in Dearborn. He remembers that he always looked forward to attending two Detroit Lions football games a year with his father. Those days were always filled with anticipation.

Jeff Chadwick today


After high school, Jeff attended Grand Valley State University from 1979 to 1982, where he was active in both football and track and field. At that time, Jeff held the high jump record at Grand Valley at 6’10” and the 400 meter dash record at :49.4. He earned 5 letters in football and track during his tenure there. As a wide receiver, he caught 75 passes for 1,512 yards and 19 touchdowns, which at the time stood as career records. He holds the distinction of being the first active professional athlete who has been inducted into the GVSU Hall of Fame.


After college, although Jeff was never drafted by a National Football League team, he did; however, sign as a Free Agent. He did play in 126 games over 10 NFL seasons from 1983 to 1992. He played a total of 73 games for the Detroit Lions from 1983-89 seasons, 39 games for the Seattle Seahawks from 1989-91 seasons, and 14 games for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1992 season. During his career, he caught a total of 4,549 yards and made 27 touchdowns.


I asked Jeff what was his most memorable experience during his football career. He responded that his rookie days were the most memorable. Just playing, walking on the field, getting on the field on game day – a free agent who makes the team as a rookie — unforgettable moments. The team start was 1-4 in the beginning of the season but finished 8-3; they won the central division and made the play-offs. Jeff was the only free agent rookie to make the NFC All Rookie team that year. Those were magical moments, never to be forgotten.


After his season with the Los Angeles Rams, he retired from football due to a severe toe injury. He moved to Orange County, California, where he started his own business called “Adventures in Advertising.” It was an advertising business that offered to print logos on mugs, pins, portfolios, and an array of other products in order to promote a business to its customers. Jeff was the middleman between the customer and the manufacturer. Banks and financial institutions were a big part of his customers. For nearly 8 years, it was a highly successful business. Until 9/11 struck. It devastated the advertising industry overnight – 75% of his business was lost with a single act of terrorism.


For a time Jeff worked as a loan officer at a financial institution. For about 3 years, he worked on a night crew at Home Depot responsible for loading and stocking materials. For another 3 years he worked for a software company, selling software to the shipping industry.

Jeff, Detroit Lions


Jeff also spent two years working as a Receiver Coach for Adrenaline Athletic Training in Riverside, California, where he trained kids through college-age in football.


In 2013, he returned to Michigan, moving to Plymouth, where he worked for a steel fabrication company that built conveyor beds for the auto industry. Jeff was responsible for their shipping, receiving, and inventory.


In 2016, Jeff moved to Clare. In partnership with manager Kristen Blackburn, they operate 4 lakeside rental cottages called Sunset Shores Cottages located in the northwest end of Stevenson Lake. The cottages are open all year around. They are efficiency cottages on all-sports lake with rustic Up-North appeal that feature knotty pine interiors, vaulted ceilings, lake-side private decks, personal grill, and private dock. Each cottage sleeps 6. Kitchen and kitchenware are provided. Each cottage contains 2 bedrooms, bath, and living room. Linens for the beds and bath are included. A sandy beach and a designated swim area, along with a floating raft, are included. A larger dining room and a multi-purpose room is available in each cottage for all guests. Food packages are available for retreats. Ice fishing or ice skating are available, and skates are available in different sizes. There is also a volleyball court on the premises. Cable TV and wi-fi is also available. Row boats, paddle boats, and kayaks are waiting for you, too. If this sounds like a place you (or someone you know) would like to spend some time, call them at (989) 386-7030. Like it says on their circular, it’s a place “where life’s stresses disappear with each setting sun.”


Jeff is currently developing several charitable ventures. For starters, he has organized a Football Camp scheduled for July 10th and July 11th of 2019. The camp is divided into 2 groups by age. July 10th group consists of ages 11-14, and July 11th group consists of ages 15-18. Each day consists of two practice sessions – one from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and a second from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The camp is hosted and taught by nothing but former professional Detroit Lions, including Cory Schlesinger, Scott Conover, Eric Hipple, Lomas Brown, George Jamison, Luther Bradley, and of course, Jeff Chadwick. The cost for the camp per person: $89. If you have a youngster who’d like some training from a real pro, please call (989) 386-7030.


Note that Jeff says he is hoping to arrange, in conjunction with the Clare school system, to have 5 scholarships donated to the cause as a result of this Football Camp.


On April 14th, Jeff supported a fundraiser at Jay’s Sporting Goods for Mid Michigan College Foundation. At this event, money was raised for students of promise who faced challenges that would otherwise prevent them from attending college.


Along with former Detroit Lions and Kristen Blackburn, other charitable arrangements are being developed. Jeff expects to involve not only former teammates but also local folks, such as Hungry Howie’s pizza, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Sheriff’s Office. They expect to raise money through fundraisers. Such things as arts and crafts shows, music events and more. Jeff specifically mentioned a fundraiser for ITP awareness.


ITP is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. It is a rare blood disorder for which there is no cure. This is an important cause to both Jeff and Kristen. They both work in conjunction with the PDSA and a local friend, Marci Mayhew.


As Jeff says, if the Football Camp is successful this year, he will continue to sponsor such events in future years. Being able to educate young athletes, inspire dreams, develop talent and give hope is a passion of his.


As you can probably gather from reading this article, we are quite likely to be hearing much from Jeff Chadwick in the future. He has several fundraising events planned for future charitable ventures.

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