Schmidt started playing pro football, the Lions were traditionally
a strong defensive team, a reputation that they happily have maintained
ever since. Yet within a very short time after his first pro game, Joe
was the defensive leader of the Lions. Later in his career, he was the
team's field captain for nine straight seasons.
: Hi everyone!
kpaluso: What would you have done with your life
had you not played football? What are you up to now?
: Coming out of college at U-Pitt, I planned to be a
physical education and coach. Right now, I'm a manufacturers agent and
we sell auto parts. I've been doing it for 28 years and I'm getting ready
to retire. However, I'm turning 69 years old and I'm ready to retire soon!
bearsfan: Hey Joe, who was the toughest guy to tackle
when you played?
: There was a whole bunch. Jim
Taylor of the Packers, Rick Casares from the Bears, Joe
Perry from the 49ers. That's about it.
cclark: Which team did you most look forward to getting
on the field with?
: I really didn't look at it that way. We enjoyed playing
every game and there wasn't really a special team. If I had to pick one,
I would say the Baltimore Colts with Johnny
Unitas. If he wasn't the best, he's among the best. I would say one
of the top five players ever in the NFL.
mermitage: Did you ever play on artificial turf?
If so, did you like it? Do you think that teams that play in domes are
hurting the integrity of the game?
: I never played on artificial turf and I'm very happy
about that. It can shorten your career. All these young guys today have
lasting injuries that pop up when you get older. As for domes, I don't
really care for them. Football should be played outdoors in the elements.
People who go to the games (the real fans) probably enjoy the game more
saleemc: Who was your best friend on the team when
you played with the Lions?
: I don't like to point out any individual. We were
a team and I'd like to think that all my teammates were special to me.
That's the way I look at it, even today.
kpaluso: Who was your favorite football player growing
: Back then, I didn't really have one. My brother (out
of three brothers total) played in college (Carnegie Tech) when I was
younger. My parents would take me to watch him play and I would say he
was my hero back then. He also played one year on the Steelers before
joining the service. Of course, back then you could only listen to games
on the radio.
MODERATOR: Who do you think is the best linebacker
in the game today?
: Oh boy. That's a hard question for me because
I really don't watch it that much anymore. I would say Junior Seau is
one of the best. That's about all I could say at the moment about present
saleemc: What was more difficult, playing linebacker
or being an NFL coach?
: Being a coach is more difficult (laughs). I went from
playing to coaching (I only spent one season as an assistant coach). I
didn't have a lot of coaching experience but my assistants helped a lot.
We actually made it to the playoffs during my fourth season. I was only
35 when I started and quite young to lead an NFL team.
bearsfan: Joe, who was the best defensive lineman
you went up against?
: You mean offensive lineman! We only had 12 teams back
then. I would say Jim
Ringo of Green Bay was one; Bob
St. Clair of the 49ers; Jim
Parker of the Baltimore Colts. Those guys were really good in my estimation.
bearsfan: What's your fondest memory from your playing
: I have a lot of them! I would say my first year being
able to make a championship team. We beat Cleveland 17-16 after Bobby
Layne threw a touchdown for the winning score. It was amazing!
MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us today, Joe. Any
: It was a pleasure for me to be here today! I
was very privileged and honored to play in the NFL. Football has matured
over the years and there are a lot of great athletes playing today. This
is the greatest game in sports and I think it takes a lot of skill to
be a good football player. Again, I've been very fortunate and privileged
to be a part of it.