After earning the all-time tackle record playing football at Western Michigan University, Wisconsin native John Offerdahl was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins. He played for eight years under coaching great Don Shula and alongside legendary quarterback, Dan Marino. John was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1986) and voted to the Pro Bowl five times (1986-1990) in his career.
John’s experiences in the NFL nurtured his competitiveness and increased his desire to give back. He took those experiences off the football field and into his community through various business and charity ventures. He created and grew his own restaurant, Offerdahl’s Bagel Gourmet, into a chain of ten restaurants before merging into the national brand, Einstein Bros. Bagels. John retired from football and the food business at the age of 29, but continued his charity work in the South Florida community.
Motivated by the scripture, “To whom much is given, much is required”, John soon got back on the restaurant playing field where he thought he could best be a steward of the experiences, resources and talents God had given him. He and his wife Lynn created the Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill concept he currently operates in the tri-county area with seven quick-casual restaurants focused on serving just-grilled chicken, steak, and seafood. The restaurants give John the opportunity to impact people at the customer, employee and community level. He considers his team of employees family, loves interacting with customers at the register, and matches 100% of employee donated tips for the Hand-OFF Foundation, a public charity that feeds the needs of South Florida.
A few years ago, John developed his own signature character, The Gridiron Griller, who hosted television shows pairing athletes with chefs and filmed them around the grill. John had such a great time combining his passion for football, friends and food, he decided to create an event that could give back to charities important to him. In 2010, the first Gridiron Grill-OFF Food, Wine & Tailgate Festival was born. An event where celebrity, competition and charity collide, fans come to eat gourmet grilled recipes created by famous Ft. Lauderdale chefs, vote on their favorites, get autographs from Dolphin legends and compete in a corn-hole tournament alongside the pros. In 2011, the festival raised over $25,000 for 4Kids, a foster care agency, Here’s Help and the Miami Dolphins Youth Charities. On and off the field John’s a real winner and South Floridians are his biggest fans!