Oct. 19, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As a fourth grader, Casey Wiegmann wrote a note stating he wanted to play football and basketball at the University of Iowa and be a pig farmer. Now he's the initial honoree on the ANF Wall of Honor.
The ANF Wall of Honor is located in the ANF Plaza in the northwest corner of Kinnick Stadium. The honor will be presented annually to a former University of Iowa football player who "exemplifies the tenacity, work ethic and character of an Iowa farmer, qualities that have helped Iowa remain the leading agricultural state in the nation."
"I am truly honored to be awarded this," Wiegmann said Friday at a news conference on the first floor of the Paul W. Brechler press box at Kinnick Stadium. "It is quite a deal, and I never dreamed of this. I would like to thank my parents and all my coaches, especially coach (Ed) Thomas, for what they instilled in me."
"When you talk about work ethic and character and what it means to be an Iowan, Casey Wiegmann is your choice any day of the week," said Denny Presnall, CEO of the Iowa Farm Bureau. "Having him here today means a lot to our organization and to the brand of ANF."
Wiegmann doesn't consider himself a true farmer... yet. After a 16-year playing career in the National Football League, he went into the farming business with former Hawkeye and best friend Jared DeVries. The pair owns 1,250 acres of farm land near Clear Lake, Iowa, and around Aplington, Iowa.
"I am truly honored to be awarded this. It is quite a deal, and I never dreamed of this. I would like to thank my parents and all my coaches, especially coach (Ed) Thomas, for what they instilled in me."
"I kind of got poked and prodded a little by my best friend, Jared," said Wiegmann on how he got into farming. "If I would have been wise enough to listen to older people, I would have done it a little sooner when I started making a little more money. It was a good thing, and a way for me to keep my roots in Iowa."
Presnall says it isn't important to honor a farmer, it's more the qualities that Wiegmann displays that make him an ideal recipient.
"Casey's not a farmer, but he understands the work ethic and the kind of things it takes," said Presnall. "The dedication you have to have every day to make something work. It's the farm attitude and the attitude Casey displays."
Wiegmann went from being a lightly-recruited 235-pound offensive lineman into an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection for the Hawkeyes. After being undrafted in the 1996 NFL Draft, he signed as a free agent and curtailed that into a 16-year career, where he made 175 consecutive starts and 11,162 consecutive snaps.
As a child, Wiegmann moved with his family away from the state of Iowa to Kansas for two-and-a-half year stretch during middle school, before relocating back to Parkersburg.
"(My dad) couldn't resist coming back to the state of Iowa and getting our roots back in the state," said Weigmann. "That's where everything took off. I got back a special coach in Ed Thomas. A lot of seeds were planted in my head of what I wanted to do, be, and how hard I worked, but when you got around coach Thomas, he said the right things and led me in the right direction."
Wiegmann received the note he wrote as a fourth grader for a birthday present from his wife a few years back.
"That slip of paper I got in fourth grade, coach Thomas always kept it on his shelf (in his office)," said Wiegmann. "When he was shot and killed, Aaron (Ed Thomas' son) ended up giving my wife the piece of paper, and she gave it to me for my birthday. I have it framed, and it's in my younger son's room."
If his sons follow in their dad's footsteps and say they want to be pig farmers?
"I will love it," said Wiegmann.
Spoken like a perfect initial honoree for the ANF Wall of Honor.