The Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation is honoring former Gophers football captain and assistant coach Mike Sherels at its annual ceremony May 7. Sherels, who nearly died last summer while battling an intestinal problem and related complications, will receive the Courage Award at the 10th annual Minnesota Football Honors banquet at U.S. Bank Stadium. He chatted recently about the award and his ongoing recovery with the Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins.
Q You getting much sleep with newborn twins?
A Not sleeping much. Usually one of them sleeps pretty well [laughing].
Q How are you feeling physically?
A I’m feeling pretty good. I’m still figuring everything out. I can eat again, which is awesome. I don’t have a whole lot of restrictions. For the most part, I eat what I want. It’s been really good. What’s left of my large intestine has responded better than even my doctors had anticipated up to this point.
Q Have you had steak yet?
A I’ve had steak and it was glorious [laughing].
Q Was there a favorite food that you couldn’t wait to eat again?
A Well, I was 290 pounds. I didn’t have many foods I didn’t like [laughing]. … I was able to coach through the season and be around my guys. I told myself I’m going to listen to every word the doctor says from now on. I’m a horrible patient because I’m pushy and I like to do things my way and I want to get back. I did that the first time. I was able to coach through the year, and I really feel like I did right by all my guys. But I limped to the finish. I wanted to make it to the [postseason team] banquet. Well, after the banquet I collapsed and went to the hospital.
Q You literally collapsed after the team banquet?
A Yes. My fever spiked, I couldn’t move. I ended up in the ER. I had worn myself down. I was badly dehydrated and overly tired. I ran myself into the ground.
Q What are your plans now? You weren’t offered a job on P.J. Fleck’s coaching staff, but I’ve heard Mark Coyle has indicated that he’d like to find a position for you in the athletic department.
A I’m on medical leave so I can’t accept a job even if I was offered one. I’m trying to listen to my doctors this time. I’m fully prepared to sit out this year if that’s what the doctors determine is best for my health. ... The U of M has been great about handling this. If I’m able to work, all I would ask of Coach Fleck is that I get an interview. If I’m not the guy for the job, by all means give it to somebody else.
Q Do you want to stay in coaching if that happens or would you accept an administrative job inside the athletic department?
A I’m not sure. I go back and forth. I went and visited [former Gophers defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel at Wake Forest] for four days. It was eye-opening. I really, really love coaching and I’m good at it. … The question will be, can I do it in a way that’s fair to the kids? If I can’t do that, if I have an infection one week and have to miss three days here and three days there, then I won’t coach. I’ll go do something else. But if things continue the way that I feel like they’re continuing, I feel like I’ve got a good shot.