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Randy Grossman, Steelers Tight End, 1974-1981

December 15, 2011
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Randy Grossman:

First, can you let readers know what you are doing with yourself these days and how you got involved in the financial industry? 

I am an independent financial advisor.  The name of my firm is Wealth Management Strategies, www.mywealthmgmt.com

I’ve been providing asset management services to individuals, businesses, and municipalities for going on 22 years.  As well, I satisfied the requirements of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards 10 years ago. 

You were picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers in 1974. What made you decide to play for the Steelers and how did you prove yourself as a rookie to make the squad? 

I suppose you could say I chose the Steelers by mistake.  I didn’t know who the Steelers’ tight ends were, Larry Brown and John McMakin, so I figured they couldn’t be very good and I surely could make the team.  That was a big mistake, once I got here and realized the talents of Larry and John as well as a fourth round TE pick and another free agent, Gary Pinkel. 

My rookie year, 1974, was the first strike year and the preseason was six games.  I was lucky enough to stay healthy and had Joe Gilliam playing quarterback, who loved to throw the ball.  I got lots of reps and was able to show my abilities both in practice and in the pre season games. 

A number of players discuss the stress of consistently vying for a spot on an NFL team. As an undrafted player who had to fight to make the roster, how did you deal with that stress and overcome it? 

Given that I’m ready for the Traveling Antique Road Show, Sports Psychologists weren’t the rage back in ’74.  Each player dealt with stress the best they knew how, consciously or unconsciously, and that was an additional differentiation no different than speed, strength, agility, smarts, etc..  I simply focused on doing everything they asked of me to the best of my ability and I had the self-confidence to know that I could do it and succeed.   

Who took you under their wing that rookie season and helped you adjust to the NFL – on and off the field? 

In those old days the Steelers sent out the whole staff to sign Free Agents and the actual person that signed me was Ralph Berlin, the Steelers trainer.  I guess he didn’t want to look bad so he kept an eye out for me.

You were undersized for an NFL tight end. Did the Steelers’ game plans take that into consideration or were you able to overcome the size issue to fit their existing systems? Either way, how did both you and the team adjust to that size issue? 

The Steelers, by luck, were the best team I could have possibly signed with because of Chuck Noll.  Perhaps because Chuck was an undersized offensive guard, he didn’t care what a player looked like, he was only concerned with a player’s ability to execute.  Game plans were designed to take advantage of opponent’s weaknesses not so much our strengths. 

It was a given that you could execute what the coaches wanted done.  I never saw my size as a disadvantage in getting done what the assignment was.  If I couldn’t do what they wanted done I wouldn’t have made Chuck’s team.

Despite a number of intense and driven players, there was still a great deal of levity on the team. Who were some of the players that kept the team loose, and how did they do so? Where you involved in any of the locker room hijinks? 

I’d probably say the two loosest guys were Terry Bradshaw and Dwight White.  They could always come through to lighten things up, more often than not with imitations they’d do of other people.

Your rookie season you went to the Super Bowl. Did you have any sense that the team was that good as a rookie and how intimidating was it to play on that big stage in your first season? 

Coming in as a rookie you’re pretty clueless as to the higher level of athletic ability in the Pros, it’s significant.  Given that a rookie doesn’t have any relative bar to measure from I can’t say I had any idea how good we were in a relative sense until the season finished. 

As far as intimidation, it goes back to dealing with stress.  By design or by function Chuck Noll’s players were highly self motivated and extremely self-confident.  We truly believed that we were the best and were anxious to be put on the stage to prove it.  

The game has changed in a number of ways since you played. Do you like the direction of the NFL in terms of the new rules on hitting and pushing the passing game? Why/why not? 

Everything has changed and nothing is different.  To win championships you’ve got to be the smartest and toughest team and have a little luck thrown in.  You don’t win championships by tricking teams.  It’s all about fundamental tough execution. 

The only part of the game that I find pretty ridiculous are the on field player celebrations for runs, catches, sacks, tackles, etc..  I suppose we live in an era of self promotion and inflated self-importance so that is reflected on the field.

A bit of trivia  – you have a passion for knitting (a la Rosey Greer). How did that come about and did you dare knit in front of your teammates?

Actually Rosey Greer did needlepoint, which I can also do.  My daughter Sarah taught me how to knit after she learned in the elementary school she was attending at the time, The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh.   She taught me so I could be her assistant in teaching a knitting class, for men only, at my wife’s annual Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival.  Our class was on how to make a “Terrible Scarf”.  Some of them were Terrible Scarves and some were just terrible. 

Yes, I did needlepoint on the plane going to away games.  Like I said you had to be confident to make a Chuck Noll team.

Any last thoughts for readers?

GO STEELERS!!!!!

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