It is always exciting for me to get in touch with Jewish sports royalty. Randy Grossman is certainly in the conversation. An important member of four Steelers Super Bowls, Grossman is a Steeler at heart. While he might have retired a while back, his passion for football drove him to great heights on the field. I was fortunate to catch up with the NFL great and talk a little pigskin.
1) What got you into football as a child? Was the NFL always on your radar?
I started playing football in 4th grade, at my elementary school. Four games and the season was over. You really only had three choices back then: Football/fall; Basketball/winter; Baseball/spring. Football was always my favorite. I knew I was going to play in the NFL. In High School I filled out a questionnaire prior to meeting with my guidance counselor that asked what type of work I thought I might do in the future. There were three blanks to fill in, I put in professional football player, professional football player and professional football player. She wasn’t very pleased with those answers but I didn’t waiver.
2) You played for one team your entire career? Was that important to you and why?
It wasn’t important other than there wasn’t any option unless you got traded. Free agency did not exist. At times I wished I could move to another team to get more playing time. But I also must say that playing for the Steelers with Chuck Noll as the head coach and the Rooney family as owners was as good as it could be really. Noll and the Rooney family were and are very special.
3) You played in four Super Bowls. Which was the best experience? What was unique about them?
All four were special in their own way. Picking a best experience would be like picking a favorite child. Believing you’re the best and playing against the best for a CHAMPIONSHIP and succeeding is what is unique, very few people ever get to experience that high level of competition.
4) Do you keep up with today’s NFL and what did you think of Super Bowl 52?
I’m a fan on the periphery and very much enjoyed the game. I was born and raised in Philly so I was very happy for my friends back there but still would have rather seen the Steelers there and winning.
5) What was your Jewish upbringing life like? Do you have a favorite tradition?
We belonged to a Conservative Synagogue, there weren’t many Reform at that time, which would have more so aligned with our family’s practice. My Rabbi in addressing the congregation following my Bar Mitzvah service shared that they didn’t know if I was going to show up for the Service on time but they knew they could find me out back playing football if I didn’t. Lighting of the Chanukah candles and remembering the Maccabee warriors’ triumph. I also feel a very strong connection to my heritage and the Almighty fasting through Yom Kippur.
6) What does the city of Pittsburgh mean to you?
Pittsburgh is a wonderfully dynamic and special city. As I mentioned, I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area but for all intend my entire adult life has been here in Pittsburgh, this is home and I can’t imagine trading it for anywhere else.
7) What are you up to these days?
I am a partner in a financial planning firm, Wealth Management Strategies, and have been providing financial planning and plan execution services to individuals, businesses and municipalities since 1990.
8) One fun fact that readers would be surprised by?
I’m an avid shotgun clay target shooter (part of a small group of Jewish friends that call ourselves the Clays and Knishes Club), bird dog trainer and bird hunter.