In the season finale of Hot Springs Village Ouachita Speaker Series presentations, the organization welcomed former National Football League player Scott Shanle to share his story of a love of American football and the dedication and perseverance it took to fulfill his dream of being an NFL player.
“You have to have something to strive for,” said a goal-oriented Shanle as he began his presentation.
Growing up in Nebraska, all he could think about was playing football for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. When his family decided to move to the small town of St. Edward, Nebraska, where they only played eight-man football, Shanle thought his chances of fulfilling his dream were dashed. But he persevered and made All-State and Player-of- the-Year on teams that went 29-3 over three seasons.
He was offered a scholarship to Kansas University, but his heart was set on Nebraska where he went as a walk-on. That first season as a red-shirt freshman was miserable for Shanle. “It’s a practice year,” he said of the grind with no playing time. “This was not what I pictured, but I couldn’t give it up. I couldn’t walk away from it.” The next season he earned a scholarship and played linebacker for the next three Cornhusker seasons.
With that success he had high hopes as the NFL draft approached. But he wasn’t drafted until the 37th pick in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. Even though he almost wasn’t drafted, Shanle was ecstatic. “Someone gave me a chance,” he said.
At Rams training camp he was overwhelmed with all the talent around him and made a point to find a way to separate himself from others to make an impression with the organization. He made the cut, but later injured his hamstring and was released by the Rams.
Shanle was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys, coached then by Bill Parcells. Shanle didn’t want to play for Parcells, but Shanle’s wife Erin, his sweetheart since eighth grade, talked him into moving forward. He met Parcells and was impressed so he stayed and played in Dallas for three seasons.
In 2006 he saw the writing on the wall. The organization had used their first two draft picks to choose linebackers. Later he learned he was traded to the New Orleans Saints. Shanle spoke about what it was like in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had hit the city.
As the next few years went on, the team jelled and made it all the way to the 2009 Super Bowl, then won it over the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.
Shanle retired from pro football at the end of the 2012 season and is now a television football analyst for the Saints and LSU.
He took several questions from the audience at Woodlands Auditorium including one about the bounty incident. Shanle said it was blown way out of proportion; it was no more than $50 and $100 amounts of money that guys used as personal incentives. “There was never any intent to hurt people,” he said.
How about the taking of a knee during the National Anthem? Shanle said, among the players, what one sees on TV is accurate. No one tries to influence the other. Some are OK with it, some are not. His problem with Colin Kapernick is that he used the NFL as a platform.
How about now, how’s your body? Shanle said he has a little pain in his back and shoulder, but was fortunate. He never had any surgeries or “torn anything.” He admitted he did have three diagnosed concussions during his many years on the gridiron.
When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came up, Shanle did not have any favorable comments, saying Goodell is bad for the game.
OSS begins again on March 21 with a presentation by Arvind Singhal on “positive deviance” in solving social problems. Then on April 1 comes Dr. Thomas Holland a forensic anthropologist who has spent many years working to identify the remains of U.S. soldiers recovered from Vietnam, Korea and elsewhere.
Then on May 16 comes Christopher Bader, a professor of sociology and business. He’ll speak on paranormal beliefs and experiences.
For more information on the OSS go to