Oct. 20, 2005
By Craig Chval
Tim Scannell enjoyed more than his share of success as a Notre Dame football player. So when he heard a person in Notre Dame Stadium calling his name during a game, Scannell figured it was an autograph request.
Once the fan had Scannell’s attention, he made his plea:
“Hey, do you think you could get Allen Pinkett to sign this jersey for me,” the fan pleaded, angling for the signature of Pinkett, one of Notre Dame’s all-time leading rushers.
Scannell, an Irish captain and second-team All-American as a senior offensive guard, laughs as he recounts the story.
“You need to know your role in life,” he says.
After spending time in the Dallas Cowboys camp as an undrafted free agent, Scannell had a stint as a graduate assistant coach on Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame staff in 1987-88.
During those two years, Scannell earned a Notre Dame MBA and also learned a number of lessons outside the classroom. He applied those lessons first as a United States Secret Service agent and then in a steady rise through the corporate world, culminating in his current position as president of Stryker Spine, a division of the health- care giant Stryker Corporation.
“Simply watching Lou Holtz lead and drive the organization on to greatness taught me lessons and gave me examples that I can emulate to this day,” Scannell offers.
Greatness – at least as measured in wins and losses – was more elusive during Scannell’s Notre Dame playing days under head coach Gerry Faust, but Scannell sees a great link between his experiences as a player and his success in the world beyond Notre Dame.
“Intensity and competitive spirit were baked into you,” says Scannell.
“The pressure of competing against very formidable opponents, overcoming adversity, and surviving to fight another day are lessons that have served me well in my career.”
At one point in Scannell’s career, “the first family” meant the nation’s first family, as he was entrusted with protecting the President of the United States and his family. Today, Scannell’s first family consists of his wife, Brigid, and their three children – Shane (13), Spencer (10) and Kenna (seven).
The Scannells return to Notre Dame often, where visits to the grotto, Sacred Heart Basilica and other campus sites “energize and humble” the former star.
“In the grand of scheme of life, Notre Dame always helps remind you of what’s really important.”