June 17, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If Joe Ehrmann isn’t a household name in and around Johnson County, by three accounts, he will be after Thursday, June 25.
Kirk Ferentz, Nate Kaeding and Mary Ferentz met the media Wednesday inside the player’s auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex. All three were adamant in their endorsements of Ehrmann, a former NFL player-turned-motivational speaker, who will address an expected capacity Englert Theatre crowd of 750 on June 25 at 7 p.m.
“Joe’s message transcends sports,” said Kirk Ferentz, head football coach at the University of Iowa. “It’s pertinent to sports, male and female, but his message is powerful to parents, educators and basically anybody who is interested in our community. That’s why we’re so excited.”
Kaeding, kicker for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, listened to Ehrmann speak last season at training camp and he and his Charger teammates were moved.
“I have never seen a team more captivated by a speaker,” said Kaeding, an All-American kicker for the Hawkeyes in 2002 and ’03. “Joe spoke to each person and it was an incredible speech — as good as I’ve ever heard. He has a very poignant, meaningful life message and a meaningful message to all the educators out there.”
“The ultimate acid test,” Kirk Ferentz said. “If you can captivate an NFL team for an hour period, that’s unbelievable and I can certainly envision Joe doing that.”
Ehrmann starred as a defensive tackle at Syracuse University and was a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1973. A Pro Bowl selection in 1978, Ehrmann played for the Colts and the Detroit Lions from 1973-82 before finishing his playing career after a three-team stint in the now defunct United States Football League. Ehrmann coached at Gilman High School in Baltimore when Kirk and Mary’s oldest son, Brian, attended school there.
“Kirk and I have this long-standing wish to have Joe Ehrmann come to our community — mostly in terms of speaking with the Iowa football team,” Mary Ferentz said. “It was Nate with his connections with Transamerica that gave this whole project wings and we’re so excited. It’s an enormous opportunity for our community. While this message is tailored to sports — and we have focused our target audience on a sports crowd — we’ve extended it to educators and people in the criminal justice system…anybody who works with kids for whatever reason. It’s an absolutely do-not-miss event.”
“Kirk and I have this long-standing wish to have Joe Ehrmann come to our community — mostly in terms of speaking with the Iowa football team. It was Nate with his connections with Transamerica that gave this whole project wings and we’re so excited. It’s an enormous opportunity for our community. While this message is tailored to sports — and we have focused our target audience on a sports crowd — we’ve extended it to educators and people in the criminal justice system…anybody who works with kids for whatever reason. It’s an absolutely do-not-miss event.”
Ehrmann will also speak to the Hawkeye football team Friday, June 26.
Ehrmann’s story is told in the New York Times bestseller “Season of Life,” written by Jeffrey Marx. According to Kirk Ferentz, Ehrmann was `on top of the mountain,’ living the good life as a popular and successful NFL player when his younger brother passed away from an unusual form of cancer.
“It’s more about the relationships you make during your time as a coach, as an educator and certainly as a parent,” Kirk Ferentz said. “Joe pulls it all together in a compact package. It’s very powerful, meaningful and concise.”
“Basically what he did was call us (the Chargers) out as men,” Kaeding said. “His three things were ball field, billfold and bedroom. (Society says) you’re a man if you’re good on the ball field, if you have a lot of money and if you have all these different sexual conquests. That’s the way society reinforces what it means to be a man and Joe lays it out there and told us that’s not what it is to be a man. He told us what it takes to be a man. That was a challenge and it had a tremendous affect on all of us.”
Tickets are available at the Englert box office or online. Cost is $12 in advance or $20 at the door.
“We are headed for a sellout, so hopefully we won’t even have any tickets available at the door, which will be a shame,” Mary Ferentz said.
For the past four years Kaeding and former UI teammate Robert Gallery hosted the Youth in Sports Camp. They decided to invest their volunteer energies in a different direction and with the support of another former Hawkeye — Lon Olejniczak — Transamerica joined forces with Kaeding, Ferentz and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital to bring Ehrmann to Iowa City.
“Joe has a unique passion for life and a unique vision,” Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s an unbelievable communicator and I think everyone will find this of great, great interest.”
“Joe’s message is so broad, it applies everywhere,” Mary Ferentz said. “Sports is just one area that he utilizes as a vehicle. If we can get everyone on the same page, teaching the right message — and I’m paraphrasing Joe here — we can build boys and girls into men and women for others who will go out and transform our culture.”
Click HERE to learn more about the UI Children’s Hospital.