SPORTS: From Fields to Dreams

Written by Grant Zellner in the October 2011 Issue

When someone from a one-light Oklahoma town like Corn introduces himself, good-natured jokes about pastimes like cow tipping soon follow. But with Oklahoma’s hardworking, resilient people, is it any surprise that Corn is a place where a farm boy can grow to be a head-turning football player, earn a full scholarship to a private university, graduate, then be taken in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft and enjoy a six year professional career?

Edmond Realtor Todd Franz did it, and he accomplished it all before the age of 30.

In Corn (pop. 503), there was not a large entertainment district. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to do. Todd, his older brother and twin sister passed the time in grand form. They rode horses and ATVs on the family’s land and spent quiet afternoons fishing and bird hunting. They cared for pigs and lambs, showing them at 4H competitions. The family even put up a basketball goal and a batting cage in the barn. “We worked a lot, then played sports,” Todd recalls. He remembers days when he would take his baseball uniform with him while working the field in the family tractor. When game time finally came, Todd could zip straight from the hayfield to the ball field.

After attending Washita Heights through the seventh grade, Todd decided he wanted to try his hand at football, which wasn’t offered in the Washita Heights school system. So, he transferred to nearby Weatherford for eighth grade. Injured during two-a-days, Todd hardly played that season, but he would not give up. Todd persevered at Weatherford High School, becoming a star in both baseball and football. By the end of his senior year, Todd was receiving attention from professional baseball scouts. But the University of Tulsa wanted Todd as a defensive back on the Golden Hurricane football team. Todd chose football, and perhaps more importantly, chose the education that would come with it.

During his career at Tulsa, Todd became a standout in the Western Athletic Conference while earning a degree in accounting. Professional interest in Todd all but assured him of being drafted in the 2000 NFL Draft and on the second day, Todd received phone calls from several interested teams. When his name scrolled across the television screen, it was time to celebrate. Todd was selected by Detroit in the fifth round.

In the National Football League, each day is a day at the office, usually filled with 12 or more hours of workouts, practices, film sessions and meetings… many meetings. “As a marginal player, you have to have a hard-worker’s mentality if you want to stay,” Todd says. Though most would hardly call a young man with a six-year NFL career “marginal,” Todd does reveal something about how to succeed at the highest level. For a defensive back, a long career is far from guaranteed. Each day’s focus is on giving your team a reason to keep you. He says good players contribute in any way possible — on special teams and filling in when others are injured. They are constantly placed in situations where they are not likely to build eye-catching statistics. Instead, dedication and effort set them apart. 

But life was not without highlights. During his career, Todd played for Detroit, Cleveland, the New York Jets, Washington and Green Bay. It was during a 2002 preseason game in Green Bay when Todd intercepted a pass against Cleveland and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. “I got to do the Lambeau Leap on Monday Night Football,” he laughs. Later, while playing for Washington in the 2004 regular season, Todd pulled down an interception against Baltimore. Todd would play the majority of his career in Washington and resided there until the end of his playing career. 

By the end of Todd’s football career, he and his wife Tisha (the couple were high school sweethearts who met at a youth group retreat at Falls Creek) had already welcomed a daughter, Sawyer, into the world. “We had visited a lot of the country because of football, and we wanted a good, family place to raise kids,” Todd says. “Oklahoma was more appealing than anywhere we had seen.”

Now living in Edmond, the Franzes have added little brother Rawley to the family. Todd and Tisha lead the college ministry at North Pointe Baptist Church. During prison ministry outreaches and student events with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Todd speaks of the role his faith has played in his life. 

Todd also has launched a successful career as a top-producing Realtor with the northwest Oklahoma City Keller Williams office. He credits his time in the NFL as one of the reasons for his success. “Like my NFL career, my work as a Realtor is results-oriented,” he says. “When helping someone sell their house or buy their dream home, I focus on giving clients the truth, so that they’ll be thrilled with the outcome. I think if you are honest with people and hardworking, people appreciate that.”

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