When you grow up the daughter of Mike and Mary Lou Schepp in Bath Township, it is an automatic that you become a Cleveland Browns fan.
Only one thing can trump that: Marry a National Football League player from an opposing team.
That’s what Kelly Schepp did when she became Mrs. Mike Person five years ago. Person is the starting right guard for the San Francisco 49ers, who just happen to be playing the Browns Monday night on national TV.
“A perfect evening would be for Mike to have a great game, but for the Browns to still win,” Schepp said of his son-in-law, who will be wearing No. 68.
Kelly would expect no less from her father.
“Dad has been such a loyal Browns fan for six decades. I think it really says something about your character if you stick with the team you grew up watching and loving even after so many consecutive disappointing seasons,” she said.
Kelly left Lima looking for work during the Great Recession, landing in San Francisco, where she took a job in recruiting with Twitter. She met Mike by chance.
The 49ers had just defeated the New Orleans Saints 36-32 in a playoff game, and Mike went out to to celebrate with some of his family at a local pub. Kelly also happened to be there that night.
“When we first struck up a conversation, he told me he worked in construction,” she said.
That was Jan. 14, 2012. Three years later, the 2004 Bath High School graduate would marry the football player from Glendive, Montana.
She’s found life as the wife of an NFL player exciting but not always easy.
As the old joke goes, the NFL stands for “Not For Long.” In playing for nine years, Mike has certainly beaten the odds — especially given he was drafted in the seventh round coming out 0f tiny Montana State College. He’s played for six different teams in those nine years, meaning constant moves for Mike and Kelly. This is his second stint in San Francisco, and he’s having one of his best seasons.
No one could be more proud of his achievements than Kelly.
“Mike’s story is the epitome of perseverance, adaptability and hard work. He’s played every position on the offensive line in the past nine years, and I believe that has aided in the longevity of his career,” Kelly said.
They have three children — Sean, 4; Nora 2½; and Eli, 6 months. In the past, the kids never attended the home games with Mom. But this year, Mike and a few of the other offensive linemen split the cost of a suite at the stadium, so that may change.
“It’s funny because the kids are still too young to realize how cool and unique Mike’s job is. And by the time they do realize what he does for a living, he’ll probably be retired from football,” Kelly said.
When the team is going well like this year — the 49ers are unbeaten in four games — it’s a fun time in the city. That can change quickly, however, and it stings a wife to hear the criticism.
“Fans and the media can most definitely be so brutal. All I can really do is try to ignore them,” Kelly said. “I don’t check Twitter because some of the most hurtful things can be written on that platform. People will say anything with no filter when they are hidden behind their phone or computer screen, knowing that there are no consequences to what they say. I have Google alerts set up if anything is written about Mike, it’s emailed to me. But Mike doesn’t want to hear about any of it, even if it’s a really positive article on him.”
On game days, she won’t see Mike until well after the fourth quarter is finished.
“When it’s a home game, the whole team has to stay at a hotel by the stadium the night before the game. They have a set curfew that ensures that they are not out getting into trouble the night before game days. If it’s an away game, depending on how far away they’re traveling, they’ll either leave on Friday or Saturday before the game,” she said.
When the 49ers and Browns kick off at 8:15 p.m. tonight, Kelly says she’ll be thinking of her Dad, knowing he’s likely at the Lima Moose Club yelling at the TV along with other Browns Backers. And she admits she too continues to have a place in her heart for the Browns.
“I’d say that part of me is definitely still a Browns fan. I want them to do well, if only for the sake of my poor Dad. The Browns deserve a winning season for the fans that have continued to believe in them,” she said.
ROSES AND THORNS: A rose finds its way to one of Lima’s biggest cheerleaders.
Rose: To longtime Lima TV and radio personality Vince Koza, who is battling stage four kidney cancer. Get better, my friend, we’re all pulling for you.
Rose: To Dennis Fuge, who will retire in February as superintendent of Spencerville schools. You don’t find many like the 61-year-old Fuge. He’s “Mr. Spencerville Schools,” having spent his entire 39-year career in Spencerville, the last six as superintendent. He’s been a teacher and a principal, as well as a coach and athletic director.
Rose: To Dr. Darla Lammers, 44, of Glandorf. She is the first woman ever to serve as president of the Ohio State Chiropractic Association in its 50-year history.
Rose: To Barbara Griffith of Columbus Grove. Her idea was featured Saturday in the nationally syndicated comic strip Pluggers.
Rose: To Steve Schmidt of Columbus Grove. He’s heading to Iceland in June 2020 to compete in the strongman world championships.
Rose: Nearly 500 motorcycle riders appeared in the 34th annual ABATE Toy Run. They expected to raise more than $20,000 to help families during Christmas.
Thorn: To Samantha Clum, 37, of Lima. She was driving erratically down West Elm Street, causing a six-car crash. Police found a bottle of vodka in her car.
Thorn: To the Ohio State football team’s black uniforms. Scarlet and gray, folks. That’s OSU’s colors.
PARTING SHOT: It’s always safer to admit your ignorance rather than display it.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.