Former Detroit Lions tight end Tony Scheffler retires ready to seize new opportunities at Chelsea
Tony Scheffler (85) of the Detroit Lions catches a touchdown pass in front of Davon House (31) of the Green Bay Packers during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday December 9, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
(Mike Roemer | AP Photo)
CHELSEA – Getting away from football on his own was something Tony Scheffler always wanted to do.
Another concussion could have kept the Chelsea high school graduate from having a choice.
After three concussions in the past four years with the Detroit Lions, the 31-year-old returns to Chelsea to help the school’s football program and pursue a local business venture.
The Lions freed Scheffler after suffering the third concussion in a 22-9 loss to Green Bay last year.
“I was sitting on my couch watching all the guys I had spent months training and playing with,” Scheffler said. “It was strange, and I was still feeling the effects of the blow.”
Time away from football during the season has helped him see the game with a slightly different perspective.
“It was a revelation,” Scheffler said. “I think when you play the game you don’t realize how physical the game can be, how hard some shots can be.”
The tight end was drafted from western Michigan by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2006 draft. He was traded to his hometown Detroit Lions in 2010.
In eight seasons, he’s had 258 career receptions with 3,207 yards and 22 touchdowns.
During the offseason, he spent months weighing his future. He trained with Chicago and Kansas City, but also began to research options outside of football.
His young family, including his wife Richelle and three children under the age of eight, was also a big factor.
“She (Richelle) was ready for me to finish, and I don’t blame her,” Scheffler said with a chuckle.
With the concussions behind him, Scheffler decided that the bright future he had outside of the game was not worth the risk.
“I’m young, 31 years old is young, so there was some concern (of the long-term risk of a fourth concussion), but it was still difficult,” Scheffler said. “I had a few opportunities, but decided it was time.”
Despite being eliminated from what turned out to be his last game, Scheffler said he had fond memories of the afternoon.
“My whole family was at this game,” Scheffler said. “I don’t know why, but we took a lot of pictures that day so it was weird. It was almost like it was meant to be. The game was at Lambeau, and we just got all of these great looks. photos. I agree with how it all turned out. “
Every Chelsea student-athlete plans to follow in Scheffler’s footsteps as the only player in the region to reach professional level.
They all know about his eight years of NFL experience, which gives him instant credibility as the new assistant coach of the Bulldogs football team.
“All the kids watch what he does and listen to everything he says,” longtime Chelsea coach Brad Bush said.
Scheffler entered his first year at Chelsea High School in the fall of Bush’s freshman year as a coach.
As a senior wide receiver, Scheffler set school records for receiving yards in one season as he helped the Bulldogs go 11-1 and reach the Division 3 regionals where he lost to eventual Farmington Hills State Champion Harrison.
“Tony was instrumental in the early successes that we had when I entered the program,” said Bush. “What makes Tony come back so well is that Chelsea mean so much to him.”
When Scheffler asked his former coach for the team’s playbook to prepare for the team’s minicamp this summer, Bush said it should be quite familiar.
“I expected him to just give me the playbook, but he just said I had to remember most of it,” Scheffler said with a laugh. “I had to tell him that I must have learned about 30 offenses since high school. After a few days in camp, things started to turn around a bit.”
Scheffler, who has donated money to the track and field program in the past, is a strictly volunteer coach.
“I was smart with my money so I didn’t have to ask for anything,” Scheffler said. “Sports programs are so important to this community that it’s just a privilege to be able to help.”
Scheffler knows Chelsea fans want their team to bounce back after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 1998.
“I think I can bring something to the table,” Scheffler said. “You don’t realize how much you know about the game after playing it until you get there and start helping. It was fun working with the ends tight, and working with Brad is the one. icing on the cake. This is something we talked about for a while, it was obvious to me. “
Scheffler’s presence in the Chelsea community will go beyond the football pitch.
He got into real estate with Tammy Lehman, one of the region’s best-known agents.
The two go into business with Lehman and Scheffler Real Estate Services. They just opened an office in downtown Chelsea last week.
Scheffler, who has a marketing degree from WMU, has done all the coursework to get his license and takes the test next week.
“Tammy has been my real estate agent since I joined the NFL,” Scheffler said. “We’ve done a lot of transactions together, and real estate has kind of become a passion of mine.”
By working with Lehman for so many years, he realized the benefit of having a real estate agent he could relate to.
“It’s a small knitted community,” Scheffler said. “I don’t think some of the bigger real estate agents give you small town type service, they don’t make it personal.”
She helped him get into rehab homes and buy a number of hunting properties when he started pursuing this hobby four years ago.
“I like the rush to find a place with potential,” said Scheffler. “I love that I can put my stamp on something. I think it has to do with growing up in a small town and having to work for everything. I wasn’t a big recruit, you know? J must have put some elbow grease in it. “
Scheffler also puts a little elbow grease in the Texas Longhorn cattle ranch. He bought a ranch in Texas to raise cattle. The ranch, and the business, is called Touchdown Ranch.
“In a weird way, it’s a bit like collecting baseball cards for me,” Scheffler said. “I love it.”