Let's face it, if your name is Mike in Chicago, you have a lot to live up to. Ditka, Jordan, Royko...it ain't easy being a Mike in the Windy City.
Mike Adamle has no problem stepping up the plate with his Mikeness. He just does it in a quiet fashion, with honor and humility.
If the name sounds familiar, our Mike has been around Chicago for a long time. He's a Northwestern grad who played for Da' Bears, hosted the original (and best) American Gladiators and now works as a sports anchor for NBC 5. Adamle is as Chicago as, dare I say it...Da Coach.
While he will never have his own shoe contract or cigar named after him, Adamle's goals are much greater than his own pork chop sandwich or cologne. It's to help his fellow athletes, who have been forgotten, long after the cheering has stopped.
"A lot of guys who helped make the game what it is today have been forgotten, that shouldn't be the case. They didn't make big money, they don't have or can't get disability insurance, it's not right. If the NFL gave up 1% of their earnings to these men, we wouldn't have this problem."
While covering the Ironman in the 80's for ABC Sports, Adamle was convinced by Scott Tinley, one of the greatest Ironmen ever, to give triathlon a try. One time is all it took and he was hooked. "It's hard for former professional athletes to workout for vanity sake, what's the point? You need a goal to fill that huge void in your life and triathlon gave me that goal, that healthy lifestyle."
59 year-old Mike Adamle is the picture of health. The life expectancy
of a former NFL running back is 56 years old. Adamle calls himself a 3
year old, and has the energy and enthusiasm to back it up.
All you have to do is try and keep up with Adamle to know that he
hasn't lost a step, he actually claims to be in better shape and more
flexible now than when he was in the NFL. "A lot of the guys retire
and are functional cripples, they deal with obesity, post concussion
stress disorder and a bevy of other conditions due to the physicality
of the game. If they just stayed active, did something, there wouldn't
be as many problems, it's painful for me to watch."
Mike Adamle is lucky. He made it through his career without
drastic physical disabilities. Now, he feels he's found what he calls
the fountain of youth. To him, the physical benefits of cross training,
swimming, biking, and running, are endless, including providing him the
opportunity to help others.
Mike Adamle is a nice guy. He talks about former players like they are
family. Instead of getting fat in his retirement playing golf (Ahem!!!
Mr. Jordan), he is once again putting in the grueling hours to train
for Kona, not for ego, he doesn't have one, but to help his friends,
the former players of the NFL.
Mike Adamle is gracious. At a recent event with Craig Alexander, Adamle
was the host. As the event ended, amped up age groupers all ran out of
the auditorium to get a photo with the champ, leaving Adamle almost
completely alone. A woman walked up to him and shared a story about
being a contestant on Gladiators and how nice he was to her. She asks
him to sign a poster from the show, not a problem.
The former pro, former TV host, Ironman finisher, and TV personality
has plenty of stories to tell, but instead makes it a point to make the
fan comfortable, listening, questioning her. You can see it in his
eyes and the time he spends talking to people in the pool, on Sheridan
road, in a triathlon shop, Adamle loves the sport and what it has given
him, a second chance. Now he is giving back.
"I saw a t-shirt at the Spirit of Racine ½ Ironman, it said, if triathlon were any easier they would call it football."
For all of Mike's efforts as a member of the Chicago endurance
community, and for his fund raising efforts, we salute Mike and are
honored to make him our Athlete of the Month.
Mike will be hosting several fund raisers in the area for The Gridiron
Greats. Check back here at The Pace to get the times and dates. We
will be following Mike's efforts as he returns to Kona in October and
will be cheering him on every step of the way. We encourage you to join us.