SARASOTA, Fla. - A Suncoast resident was recently inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Fame. He blazed quite a trail on the field.
Working for Konica Minolta has been the only job Mark Messner has since he left college -- the only job besides football, that is. That job came about because Messner was a 2-time All-America defensive lineman at Michigan in the 1980's.
"When you're too small, too slow, and not strong enough, you have to figure out a way. I did not want to get caught by those huge offensive lineman, so I had to use speed, scouting, and intelligence to figure out something," says Messner.
As a 4-time All-Big Ten lineman, 2-time All-America, and the school’s all-time sacks and tackles leader, Messner earned the Hall of Fame entry. But with the school history, it is still a bit unbelievable for him. “That's what made it such a humbling experience, to be put in the category of a Gerald Ford, coaches like a Bo Schembechler, and things like that. There is just so few of them in a storied program like Michigan, to include me is just such a humbling experience."
Messner lives here on the Suncoast full-time now, but he is surrounded by mementos of his playing days -- like his appearance on the Bob Hope All-America Show, his MVP trophy from the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, his Lombardi finalist plaque…and now he adds his Hall of Fame trophy to the mix.
“The format that they utilized was a really cool format where they had a question and answer session, so the audience could get to know us on a personal level rather than spewing stats and honors. It was just a wonderful, wonderful weekend."
Messner played for the Los Angeles Rams for part of one season before his career was ended by a leg injury. He was undaunted playing in front of over 100,000 people at the Big House, but speaking at the Hall of Fame dinner was a different story. “To have everybody there to honor you rather than watch you perform had a completely different feel. It was far more emotional than I thought it would be, as well."