For many like me who are aware of Lima’s local connection to Sunday’s Super Bowl, the outcome came up a bit shy of expectations when the Chiefs roared back from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter to overcome the 49ers.
My pal of over 60 years, Mike “Shag” Schepp, certainly had his eyes glued on big No. 68 on the 49ers’ offense, Mike Person, the starting right guard. That would be Shag’s and his wife Mary Lou’s son-in-law, their daughter Kelly’s 6-foot-5, 300-pound husband and father to their three kids, 4-year-old Sean, 3-year-old Nora and 10-month-old Eli.
Now, as for where my pal Shag was sitting while watching the game, well, that’s a four-part story with a rather sad ending.
Part I of the tale unfolded right after San Francisco clinched a trip to the Super Bowl with their win over the Packers two weeks ago. Initially, it was thought that both Shag and Mary Lou may be able to attend the game with daughter Kelly. Certainly, there were tickets for all as well as lodging. However, there was uncertainty as to who would babysit the little ones.
Part II was revealed when Shag called me and told me that Mary Lou and he were needed, as they have been several times before during Mike’s NFL odyssey, as babysitters. Kelly and Mike recently bought a house in Marysville, so the babysitting gig this time, as it has in the past, wouldn’t involve plane trips to rented houses.
I consoled my pal by telling him the best seat is always in front of a flat screen far from the frenzied masses, while secretly feeling bad he’d lost the opportunity to watch his son-in-law perform on such a grand stage. And, that’s where I thought the story would end.
However, there was indeed a Part III. You see, daughter Kelly was able to enlist a friend of hers to help her mom babysit, and Shag was given an enthusiastic wife’s thumbs up to attend the game. He appeared ready to hop on a plane for Miami, where he had a hotel room waiting and a seat with Kelly at Hard Rock Stadium.
Wonderful for my friend, right? However, as often happens in a life that at times seems to turn left when you want to turn right, days before he would board that plane, there came Part IV. He’d contracted the flu, landing him on the “unable list,” as in unable to attend the game in person and unable to watch the game with Mary Lou for fear of making the kiddos sick.
So, Shag’s seat was in his easy chair with a box of tissues nearby just off Fenway Drive in Bath Township, not far from Bath High School, where Kelly graduated in 2004.
As I’ve done all season when the 49ers were on, I was also lending Shag support by frequent texting. We exchanged several Sunday during the ebb and flow of action.
I’m pretty certain there were many in Lima of a certain (my) age who remember the last time Kansas City won the Super Bowl some 50 years ago, when LCC’s own Jim Lynch started at linebacker for the Chiefs. That may have prompted them to root for the Chiefs. Despite Jim’s and my sharing the same high school alma mater, I was solidly with San Fran.
After all, I attended Kelly’s and Mike’s wedding in Columbus in 2014 and instantly liked him. And, I must admit, I felt pretty good knowing, through Shag, someone in pro football. As Mike Person’s father-in-law will proudly tell you, there’s an awful lot to admire about No. 68, who assumed his starting position in 2018.
“He’s really worked his tail off. As a seventh-round pick and an offensive lineman, Mike was expected to learn more than one position to increase his value, which he has. At times he’s slid from guard to tackle and even to center,” he said.
Person has been the model of pertinacity. He’s been cut four times, has played for six different teams, eight if you count the two different stints with the Colts and 49ers.
Of course, the multiple moves from one city to another through St. Louis, Atlanta, Kansas City (yes, he was a Chief in 2016), Indy and San Fran isn’t accomplished easily. Kelly spearheaded six different moves, while Shag and Mary Lou have pitched in several times with transporting the kids, a dog or vehicles or sometimes all of those together, in addition to plenty of babysitting. This season alone, there were three separate flights to San Jose to Kelly and Mike’s rented house for that duty.
So, even with the loss Sunday, it’ll be nice for Mike to get to Marysville for a bit of an off-season, but only a bit since organized team workouts begin in mid-April.
Says Shag, “It’ll be a quick turnaround for Mike. If there is such a thing as a drawback to going to a Super Bowl, it’s that the off-season is a month shorter.”
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned through my secondhand insider’s look at the NFL, there’s a lot of moving parts needed to make the lifestyle work.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.