Spielman played eight seasons with the Lions (1988–95), and was a defensive stalwart during the team’s run to four playoff appearances, two NFC Central titles, and a berth in the 1991 NFC Championship Game.
He captained the Lions defense that was one of the best statistically in the NFL in the mid-1990s. Spielman is Detroit’s all-time leader in career tackles with 1,138 (since the team began recording tackles statistically in 1973.)
He also recorded 10 sacks, four interceptions, 30 pass defenses, 13 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries during his Lions’ career. He was the first Lion to lead the team in tackles seven consecutive seasons since 1973, including the team’s highest single-season tally of 195 tackles in 1994.
Spielman represented the Lions in four Pro Bowls (1990–92, 1995) and was named the team’s defensive MVP in 1993 and 1994. He played for the Buffalo Bills in 1996 and 1997. In 1996, he set a team and personal record with 206 tackles. His 1997 season was limited because of a neck injury that required spinal surgery.
He chose to miss the 1998 season to assist his wife battling cancer.
He returned to the NFL in the 1999 season, with the Cleveland Browns. He retired before the regular season began, after suffering another neck injury. Spielman is also notable for being one of the players notable NFL Draft "guru" Mel Kiper, Jr. has "missed" on, Kiper admitting in a 2001 post that he had underrated the linebacker. In April 2009 Spielman was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. His induction came in July 2010. In 2012 he appeared in an episode of the NFL Network show A Football Life, the episode showed how he was not only a great player on the field but a great man off the field for his family.
Chris Spielman's broadcasting career started in 1999, as an NFL studio-show analyst for Fox Sports Net. After two years with FSN, Spielman joined ESPN in 2001. He serves as a color analyst for college football broadcasts, as well as studio analyst for college football. Spielman has won praise from some broadcasting peers, including Sports Illustrated'sDr. Z, who wrote that "...Chris Spielman will come up with some startlingly accurate observations too".
Spielman is also a contributor to the Columbus, Ohio based FM radio station 97.1 The Fan; 97.1 is an ESPN Radio affiliate. He is a former star and host of the 12-2pm show "Spielman on Sports." Spielman also appears every Tuesday afternoon on AM 1270 WXYT, a sports-talk radio station in Detroit. Spielman also served as a color analyst for the Detroit Lions during the preseason. In 2006, Spielman hosted a reality series on ESPNU called Summer House.
Spielman was the coach of the Columbus Destroyers, an Arena Football League team, in 2005. He coached one season, compiling a 2-14 record. After the 2000 season, Spielman interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at Ohio State previously held by John Cooper. However, the job eventually went to Jim Tressel.
Chris and Stefanie Spielman had four children, Madison, Noah, Macy and Audrey. Stefanie Spielman survived four bouts with breast cancer. Both she and her husband were active in raising funds for breast cancer research. Ultimately, however, she died on November 19, 2009, after the disease returned for the fifth time. While undergoing treatment Stefanie had lost her hair, at which time Chris voluntarily shaved his head in solidarity with his wife. The Spielman family resides in Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.