About Us


Our Approach

The Gridiron Grunts (see bios below) are delighted to motivate and educate religious and non-religious organizations by using stories of their experience in professional sports and the military.

But, wait! If you don't want to schedule Shawn Barber or John Selman, the Gridiron Grunts can also reach out to their vast network of both current and former professional athletes and military members (regardless of sport or branch).

Along the lines of the 6 degrees of separation concept, the Gridiron Grunts leadership team believes they are no more than 2 degrees separated from any athlete or service member you would like to invite. Just let Gridiron Grunts know who you want as a speaker and they can pick up the phone and within 2 (or 3) calls can be talking to the person you requested. There are no guarantees the person requested is available, but we can ask!


Our Story

Shawn and John's friendship began at church. It wasn't long before Shawn asked John to tag along with the Kansas City Chiefs' Ambassador group as their unofficial military liaison.

John was impressed with how many people turn out to meet and hear current and former professional athletes. Then Shawn said something interesting. He said, "the athletes may have the draw, but it's the military who have the story".

A few weeks later, Gridiron Grunts was born. They wanted to use the attraction of professional athletes and the stories of the military to inspire, encourage, and teach leadership.

Meet the Team

Selman Head Shot Smiling with Tie

John Selman

C0-Founder & Board of Directors

John T. Selman Jr (born April 02, 1971) is a retired U.S. Army veteran. He received a ROTC scholarship and attended West Georgia College. He was commissioned as an Armor 2nd Lieutenant in 1993. He has been all over the world including 2 combat tours to Iraq, and 1 “trip” to Afghanistan.

Originally from Rome, Georgia, John attended West Georgia College with aspirations of becoming a high school teacher and coach. He attended U.S. Army Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky after his sophomore year and was subsequently awarded a ROTC scholarship. John graduated in 1993 with a degree in Secondary Education and was commissioned an Armor 2nd Lieutenant.

John attended the Armor Basic Course in Fort Knox, Kentucky and was assigned as a tank platoon leader for the 1 Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 24th Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He eventually became the battalion’s scout platoon leader where he deployed to Kuwait, in 1996, during Operation Intrinsic Action. He finished his time at Fort Stewart as a tank company executive officer.

After returning briefly to Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1997 for the Captain’s Career Course, John was assigned to the III Corps War Plans section at Fort Hood, Texas. While at Fort Hood, he also served as the opposing forces commander in the 21st Cavalry (Aviation) Brigade and as a company commander in the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

John returned to Fort Knox in 2001 as a company commander in the 1st Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment. Before leaving Fort Knox, he served as a tactics instructor for the Captain’s Career Course and director of the Armor Pre-Command Course.

In 2006, John attended the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After graduation, he deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and returned to Fort Leavenworth to attend the School of Advanced Military Studies.

After graduation, John was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas. He eventually deployed as a strategic planner with the 4th brigade combat team to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.

Upon redeployment, John returned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and served as the Combined Arms Center’s current operations’ chief. Afterward, John was assigned as cadre for the School of Advanced Military Studies. While there, he visited Afghanistan to teach strategic planning to the Afghani National Security Council. He was also temporarily assigned to the Pentagon and served as the strategic planner for the National Task Force on Behavioral Health.

John retired after a 20 year career in 2013 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Louisville and a Master’s degree in Strategic Planning from the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. John also holds a Doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership from Kansas State University. He currently works as a contractor in the training development and statistical analysis field. He lives in Louisburg, Kansas with his wife Betsy. They have 5 children.

Shawn in Chiefs Jersey

Shawn Barber

Co-Founder & Board of Directors

Shawn Barber (born January 14, 1975) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Richmond. He also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.

Shawn was an all-district and all-region player as a safety at Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia. Despite not playing football until he was a junior, he returned three interceptions for touchdowns and averaged over 20.0 yards per catch as a senior. He also earned all-district honors in basketball and lettered once in track.

Shawn began his collegiate career at the University of Richmond as a safety but was moved to linebacker in his sophomore year. As a junior, Barber was an All-American honorable mention by the Associated Press and an all-Yankee Conference first-team selection. As a senior, he became the Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1997.

Shawn was drafted in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. In 1998, he saw duty in 16 games (one start) for the Redskins. During the 1999 season, he started all 16 Redskins games. In 2000, he started 14 games for Redskins and was inactive for two games. His last year as a Redskin was 2001. While he was a Redskin he appeared in 49 games (34 starts), amassing 281 tackles, 3 sacks, three interceptions with one touchdown, two fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and added 25 special teams tackles. While he was there, he started two playoff games in 1999, amassing 16 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Shawn then went to the Philadelphia Eagles was in 2002. He started all 16 games as a linebacker and produced 119 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, including a career-long 80-yard touchdown, a career-high three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and seven passes defensed.

In 2003, Shawn was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, as an unrestricted free agent where he started 16 games. After the 2006 season, he was resigned to a one-year deal with his previous team, the Philadelphia Eagles and then finished his 10 year professional career with a one-year stint with the Houston Texans.

Shawn currently has his hands in a lot of activities. He is the communication coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Ambassadors and serves as a uniform inspector for the National Football League. Additionally, he serves the Philadelphia Eagles as a scout under the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship. Shawn currently lives in Overland Park, Kansas with his wife Nichole and their 6 children.

Next Steps...

Please reach out to the Gridiron Grunts team by clicking the "Let Us Hear From You" button. They will discuss a plan to visit your organization and customize your tax-deductible pricing options.