Organizers of next week's Gridiron Greats of Michigan Hall of Fame ceremony could save some money by making Bob Chappuis the event's guest speaker.
Because he is being inducted into the hall that evening, Chappuis, a Toledo native who was runner-up in the 1947 Heisman Trophy voting to Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack, is expected to be present anyway. And even at 87 years old, he is plenty sharp enough to share captivating stories of his life, from both decades ago and from recent times.
Chappuis, who played four sports at DeVilbiss High from 1937-41, is one of 14 to be inducted into the hall next Saturday in Novi, Mich. New UM athletic director Dave Brandon - a player from 1970-73 - and Lloyd Carr, who coached the Wolverines from 1995-2007, also will be honored.
The hall honors not just Wolverine players, but any player who played in the state of Michigan.
Chappuis says he doesn't necessarily enjoy sharing stories of his days as a college and professional football player or of his World War II encounters - some of in which he narrowly avoided death - or of his appearance on the cover of Time magazine in '47. But often he succumbs to such requests when pressed by any of his nine grandchildren.
A story many have not heard is how Chappuis recently spent about a week at the University of Michigan Hospital because of a blood infection. From there, he entered a care center near his home in Ann Arbor and, following a near month stay, he was released about two weeks ago.
He has not declared whether he'll attend next week's ceremony, and if he does, it will be with the assistance of his son, Robert."I think when you get to be my age, your concerned about your health," Chappuis said. "But I'm feeling fine at this point. I'll try and make it as long as my son can drive me over there."
Chappuis and his wife of 61 years, Anne, have lived in Ann Arbor for most of the past decade, after spending much of their adult lives in Indiana - first in South Bend and then in Fort Wayne where Chappuis was vice president in charge of labor relations for an agri-business firm.
After leaving UM, where he excelled as a halfback and as a passer, Chappuis played two years of professional ball in the All-American Football Conference. He retired abruptly because, according to an interview he did with the publication European Stars and Stripes, Chappuis wanted to "enjoy a more leisurely lifestyle and to be able to visit Ann Arbor for those fall football games."
Last year, Chappuis estimates he attended "a half dozen" of the Wolverines' eight games at Michigan Stadium.
"I remember when I was in high school and I stepped foot in the stadium for the first time, and it was just awesome," Chappuis said. "I've never forgotten it."