Throughout the ages Grandfathers have given advice to their grandsons. When your Grandpa is one of the greatest NFL Directors Sandy Grossman, that advice becomes even more important. So what was the advice the television giant parted with? When asked by his grandson Zachary about how to make it in the business? “Be Memorable”
Sometimes things come to us easy, when we feel inspired. Other times you search a bit for the right words to say. Words that you want to have an impact. In the same way the person you are writing about did. Words that you type from your heart. Words that, while looking over your research notes and facts of someone that was so beloved. Every person you spoke to echoed the same sentiment. “write something great, something that shows how much Sandy meant to us.”
That is what I intend, and hope to accomplish with my story to honor a pioneer in television directing the late Sandy Grossman.
Grossman grew up a Jersey boy, who’s first job was as an usher at The Ed Sullivan theater. At first he aspired to be a sports broadcaster. “That all changed when he heard his voice” son Dean said.
After graduating from Weequahic High School in Jersey, Grossman studied Broadcasting at the University of Alabama. Upon hearing his voice, Sandy decided that being a play by play guy wasn’t the right choice for him. Instead Sandy thought about the best move he could have, and opted to go behind scenes. That decision that seems so minor to the world at the time, changed the way we as fans viewed games forever. It was, without a doubt, the best choice he could have made.
Grossman became a well-crafted coordinator, having insight and vision that well ahead of his time. A time that spanned a period of 41 years.
Sandy directed broadcasts of 10 Super Bowls, 18 NBA finals, 5 Stanley Cups, and Olympic Games. Not to mention winning 8 Emmy awards for directing.
He also has a gold record as well to add to his credit. How so? The gold album was given to him by Van McCoy, when Grossman decided to use his song “The Hustle” as a re-entrance to a basketball game that Sandy was directing. After being played, Van McCoy sent him a gold album in thanks of his promotion, for using their song at the break of the game.
“My dad created things, he truly was an innovator. No matter what my dad was directing, he always treated every event as the biggest sporting event.” Dean said, as he gave me an example of just how a head of his time his dad was. “He was the first person to utlize the camera being above the football field for game time shots.”
Described as a “true friend, a great family man” by producer and long-time television partner Bob Stenner, Grossman thrived with 2 of the best broadcasters in the business behind the mic, John Madden and Pat Summerall. Grossman and Stenner were paired with Madden and Summerall for 21 seasons.
“John was a teacher first. John wanted us to watch the game film of the NFL teams. Sandy really knew how to feed John, he knew what John, and Pat liked and wanted.” Stenner said.
Stenner first worked with Grossman for the Cotton Bowl in 1970, and quickly formed not just a working relationship but a friendship. “It was great working with Sandy”. Stenner told me that Sandy was a believer in telling a story when directing a game. “The story comes first, technology comes second. You have to let the game come to you.” Bob recalled when fondly remembering Sandy.
“When you saw that John and Pat were calling your game, you knew you were playing in a big game.” That was the sentiment from former head coach Dan Reeves. “With Sandy directing you knew that he would be prepared, and you were in good hands.” Reeves continued. “It was a secure feeling knowing that the right shots would be chosen, and the cameras were in the right places.”
Besides that Reeves said that his time working with Sandy was always enjoyable “I miss his smiling face, I miss his kindness and the way he treated people.”
It’s the biggest thing I came away with after interviewing his son Dean, producer Bob Stenner and Coach Dan Reeves. It’s how loved Sandy was by his family, friends and co workers. “He was so kind, He was a great man, He was a good person to work with.” They may have to create a new adjective for the kindness and love that was Sandy Goodman.
Sandy retired in 2012, upon his retirement that year the Elite Football league of India hired Grossman to teach its camera crews how to cover American sports.
On April 2, 2014 Sandy Grossman lost his battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Faithe, Sons Dean and Bobby, his daughters Jodi, and Bari along with his 8 grandchildren.
While talking to Grossman’s son Dean, said he once asked his dad if he realized the status he has. “Dad do you realize who you are?” Dean once asked Sandy. “Yes, he said. I’m a Jewish kid from Newark, New Jersey.”
To stay so humble when you have achieved such status as being recognized by The 66th Prime Time Emmy awards with the likes of Casey Kasem, Shirely Temple, Sid Caesar among others, upon your passing says volumes about your “memorable” mark you left. Even more than that, the measure of this man goes beyond such awards. It’s about how beloved he was by his family, and his friends. You very well maybe “A Jewish kid from Newark, New Jersey” Sandy, but you are also a pioneer, a ground breaker, and the gold standard to those who step into the truck to produce a sporting event.