Offensive linemen aren’t supposed to rack up gawdy numbers. Touchdowns, sacks, interceptions, tackles, rushing yards – those belong to the high-profile positions like quarterback, running back, cornerback and linebacker. Offensive linemen toil anonymously and accumulate no statistics. Unless you’re Mark Schlereth.
His football career is filled with impressive numbers:
Two Pro Bowl appearances.
Three Super Bowl rings.
Twenty-nine surgeries (including 20 on his knees).
Add it all up and you get one fantastic football career.
Schlereth, a 1984 Service High graduate who retired after the 2000-01 season, is the first Alaskan to win a Super Bowl. His first Super Bowl win came with the Washington Redskins in 1992 and the next two came with the Denver Broncos in 1998 and 1999.
His ascent to greatness started inauspiciously enough. Schlereth never made the all-state team as a high school player in Alaska, and in his senior year at Service the Cougars were 1-6. When it came time to go to college, it was the University of Idaho – a Division I-AA school – that wanted him, not a powerhouse team, not a major-conference team.
At Idaho, he bulked up with food and weight training, and he caught the eye of pro scouts. Once drafted, he proved a talented and durable guard. Despite all of those surgeries, he played in 156 games – an average of 13 a season – and started in 140 of them.
Still, it wasn’t until Schlereth retired from the NFL that he shed the anonymity that comes with being an offensive lineman. He’s more famous now than he ever was as a player, thanks to a regular gig as an ESPN football analyst.
– Beth Bragg