Note: This is an interview which was done by phone with former Lions' fullback, Cory Schlesinger.
It was originally supposed to be conducted via MLive.com, but due to schedule conflicts, could not be completed by the CBS deadline. If MLive.com is willing, another interview is in the works after Allen Park High School completes its school year.
As a fullback, Cory Schlesinger made a living out of making life easier for others. Whether it was opening holes for Lions' running backs or pass protecting for rookie quarterbacks, Schlesginger didn't thrive on attention...he thrived on accomplishment.
No surprise he's now entered a profession that gets even less recongition—teaching.
Teaching Computer Science at Allen Park
According to Allen Park Vice Principal, Mike Darga, he and Schlesinger met in the right place at the right time.
Cory was attending an Athletic Boosters fundraiser for Allen Park High School...he had expressed an interest to teach. At that time Allen Park Public Schools was looking for a Drafting/CAD teacher. Cory was offered the position pending certification requirements for the state of Michigan.
Teaching is nothing new for Schlesinger. He spent parts of offseasons from 1995-1999 student teaching in Nebraska at both the high school and collegiate levels.
Computer science is a far cry from laying out middle linebackers, and his vice principal jokingly talked about his worries:
I'm the guy who would have to tell him about a parent complaint...and here I'm standing in front of a guy who used to run over people while breaking face masks for a living.
In all honesty, Cory is a very mild mannered individual who takes his position and role very seriously here at the high school.
Schlesinger told me his celebrity was a little distracting when he first started teaching, but now that the year is almost over, kids taking his class know to expect a real classroom with a real teacher.
Schlesinger decided to focus on teaching in his first year and decline any coaching responsibilities at Allen Park. He is, however, handling a school wide strength and conditioning program, working with young men and women from every sport.
Life After Football
The life of a high school teacher doesn't provide a great deal of free time. When Cory Schlesinger does have a free moment, he usually spends it on someone else.
At home, his two little girls—ages nine and 11—deserve a lot of attention. School projects, homework, and family life take up a lot of Schlesinger's day. Natalie and Leah know Cory as a loving father who builds sets at school or participates in any fundraiser available—using his recognition for others.
It's not the only fund raising he does.
Schlesinger participates with the Lions' organization in a Michigan-wide charity basketball program raising money for whatever the situation calls for. So far, Schlesinger has helped police and fire departments and many schools throughout the state.
When he has a moment to himself, the muscle car fanatic will probably be in his garage, working on his 1966
He loves teaching, but may find himself coaching in the future. After spending most of his career also doing a sports radio show, he would love to be in-studio for a local TV station doing pregame or postgame work.
He's open to just about anything.
(Note to Detroit area television producers: look into that.)
Schlesinger describes the end of his career in this way:
"My career ended with me finishing my contract. No bitterness, I played 12 years with a great organization."
Schlesinger does his best to stay in touch with the organization. He's a regular at charity events and draft day parties (missed this year with a school activity). He also stays in touch with current players like Casey Fitzsimmons, Jason Hanson, Nick Harris, and Don Muhlbach.
He also stays in contact with former Lions Stephen Boyd and Luther Ellis.
He misses the camaraderie—sitting around the locker room after a practice or game, but admits it was a lot different as an older player being a decade older than most of your teammates.
"One of the best parts was watching all those young guys grow up."
Of course, the No. 1 thing he misses about the game?
Schlesinger reminisced about breaking face masks. He doesn't have an exact count, but knows it was around 20 a season—about one a game including preseason with a few from training camps.
"You think about all the big hits, but for some reason it was usually the glancing blows which did the most damage"
On the Current Lions
"The great thing about the Ford family is that they provided a great facility—to practice and to play. It's up to the team to win for him. Not just the Fords, but the whole state of Michigan has been outstanding. I don't know of a team that has had records like the Lions and that kind of support is still there"
Schlesinger doesn't want to pin 0-16 on any one particular thing. It was more of a perfect storm leading to the most imperfect season in history.
Types of offense, types of defense, bad decisions on a whole lot of levels, coaches, players...etc.
He remains optimistic.
"I think now they're doing a lot of the right things to put together a winning football team. They're on the right track."
In the great debate about Matthew Stafford, Schlesinger doesn't mince words.
"I think if you're the No. 1 draft pick, you should be ready to start right now and win. I've never been a big fan of the draft, and maybe it's just jealousy, but you get these kids who get paid all kinds of money..."
Schlesinger likes the looks of the rest of the draft class and thinks the building blocks are in place for a good future.
He's not going to predict anything though, "I'm not going to do that, let's put it this way though. They'll be better than last year."
The author would like to thank Cory Schlesinger and Mike Darga for their support in this interview.
A special thanks also goes out to Phillip Zaroo of MLive.com who dealt with a college student and high school teacher's schedules and still doesn't have any audio to show for it.