Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Mike Vrabel's parents, his Walsh Jesuit coach celebrate Summit County Sports HOF induction


Nate Ulrich

Akron Beacon Journal


Chuck and Elaine Vrabel traveled to the Nashville area this past spring to watch their grandson Carter play in a doubleheader for Tennessee Tech University's baseball team.

The couple's son, Tennessee Titans coach and Walsh Jesuit High School graduate Mike Vrabel, met them during the first game and proceeded to unpack a large grill and three coolers from his pickup truck.

Between the two games, Tennessee Tech players visited Mike Vrabel's portable cooking station and, by Chuck's estimation, consumed a combined 75 hot dogs, 35 hamburgers and countless bottles of Gatorade.

When the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame inducted Mike on Tuesday night during its banquet at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron, Chuck and Elaine Vrabel were in attendance along with former longtime Walsh football coach Gerry Rardin.

Chuck accepted the honor on behalf of his son and explained he is most proud of Mike remaining down-to-earth despite his fame as an NFL head coach and former standout edge defender whose best seasons were with the New England Patriots.

“He's always going to be Mike,” Chuck Vrabel said during his speech. “He's won championships, got accolades, three Super Bowls, but it doesn't matter. He's still just Mike. If you were to meet Mike this evening, he would just be Mike, and I'm very, very proud that that's how he behaves and carries himself.”

Later, Chuck told the Beacon Journal, “'He's just Mike' is my way of saying that it hasn't gone to his head. He doesn't think that he's somebody. He still appreciates people, and he's still working.”

Jeff Sheeks, a board member of the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame, shakes hands with Chuck Vrabel, father of NFL coach Mike Vrabel, during the awards banquet on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Akron, Ohio, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Vrabel is working this week on preparing the Titans (2-2) for their AFC South road game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts (2-2).

Anyone who knows how many hours NFL coaches log could not have possibly been surprised Vrabel didn't attend the SMCSHOF induction ceremony in the thick of football season.

However, Vrabel did send an acceptance speech via video. He thanked his parents, former teammates and coaches, wife, Jen, and sons, Carter and Tyler, an Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman. He also singled out Rardin for the influence he provided at Walsh.

“Coach Rardin just had a way about him,” Vrabel said in the video. “Looking back on the job that he did, it kind of helped shape the coach that I wanted to be. [He] had a great relationship with us in school, around the building, but then also on the football field and being able to hold us accountable.”

Rardin and Vrabel's parents accepted Mike's invitation to attend the Titans' 27-3 loss to the Browns (2-2) on Sept. 24. They had pregame sideline passes at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Vrabel's video shout-out resulted in another amazing experience for Rardin, who coached Walsh for 35 seasons before retiring from coaching in 2014.

“It's hard to put in words how powerful that is,” Rardin said of Vrabel's compliments. “For somebody of his caliber to still be thinking of his high school coach, it means a lot.”

Hey, he's just Mike.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at On Twitter: @ByNateUlrich.

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