The football career of Grant Wistrom reads like something out of mythology.
In high school at Webb City MO, Wistrom helped lead his team to a pair of State Championships.
At the University of Nebraska Wistrom was an All Conference and All American defensive end on a team that won three NCAA National Championships.
As a professional football player in the NFL Wistrom was a starter for three Super Bowl teams, including the ’99-00 World Champion St Louis Rams.
Adding to this impressive resume Wistrom was recently elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
“It was by far and away the biggest individual honor I’ve ever received,” Wistrom said of his selection.
“Winning three national championships really helps your odds of getting an award like that. I was the one singled out but there was no way I would have received something like this if I hadn’t been a member of three excellent football teams that were made up of hundreds of great players and great coaches that I was fortunate enough to get to work with,” he said.
Wistrom and his wife Melissa and their young son Wyatt reside part of the year in Grove where his parents Ron and Kathy make their home.
“We love Grove,” Wistrom said. “I grew up here on the lake during the summers when my grandparents owned Red Rock Resort. So we were in Grove every summer.
“We haven’t had a home here very long, just a little over a year and a half, but we still feel like members of the community. And some of my best memories growing up were here on Grand Lake.”
Wistrom spends his time in Grove overseeing operations at Prudential Grand Lake Wistrom Realty and helping his mother at the Wax Bucket- a gift store of which she is part owner.
Wistrom also devotes a lot of his time to the Grant Wistrom Foundation. Created in 2002, the Foundation works to provide pediatric cancer patients a nurturing environment. Through the activities of the Foundation young cancer patients are involved in a series of programs designed to boost self-confidence and offer an opportunity for the children to visit with peers who share their struggles.
At Wistrom’s Prudential offices in Grove memorabilia from his NFL career decorates the walls. Game jerseys and photographs are joined by an impressive array of game balls from his time with the Rams and the Seahawks. But it’s when the talk turns to his time at the University of Nebraska that Wistrom, generally a reserved person concerning all of his accomplishments, really opens up.
“You never leave Nebraska,” he said. “Once you play football there you’re part of the family. And you are always welcomed back. That’s especially true with the coaching staff they have now. The coaches like to see us old guys come around and motivate the current guys.”
Wistrom is looking forward to a Husker win in the Holiday Bowl versus Arizona on December 30th and attends as many games as he can each season.
“It would have been nice to have defeated Texas,” Wistrom said about his alma mater’s Big XII Championship Game appearance earlier this month. “But the officials made the right call there at the end, it was the right call.
“The football team are in the same position now as they were in when I first got there as a freshman,” he added. “Getting that close to success this year will give the team a desire and hunger for even more and that’s something that they can build on. They’re headed in the right direction.”
Wistrom’s campaigns with the Huskers are the stuff of legend. He was a two-time All American and the winner of the 1997 Lombardi Award. He holds the school record for tackles for loss and ranks second on the Huskers all-time sack leaders list. He was twice honored as the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. The football team retired his jersey, number 98, during the 1998 season.
Besides his on-field honors Wistrom was also an Academic All American at Nebraska. In 1997 he was selected as the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year for all sports.
Being a Nebraska alum in Sooner Country can make for some interesting situations but the former All Conference star takes it all in stride. It helps that his Huskers never lost to the Sooners, or Cowboys for that matter, and defeated OU this past season.
“I grew up as an OU fan,” he joked. “So, maybe if Coach (Barry) Switzer had been there when I came out of high school, who knows, I might have been singing Boomer Sooner.”