Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Interview: Former NFL Great Randy Grossman

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.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mix and Blomberg to Appear

March 18th is one of the Chicago Sports Spectaculars. Jewish NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix is making a rare appearance. Ron Blomberg will be present as well. You can find out more info HERE.

Jason Zucker is also hosting an event in Minnesota for Children's Hospital. Click HERE for more.

Lurie Got the Trophy: I Got the Selfie

Got to speak to Patriot owner Robert Kraft for a little during Super Bowl week. An amazing man and a great experience.

Super Bowl week was packed with other Jewish sports figures outside of the owners. Olympians Aly Raisman and Jeremy Bloom were in town. Former NFL players Sage Rosenfels and Geoff Schwartz were doing radio and events. Hall of Famer Andre Tippett did day one of Radio Row. Injured Patriot Julian Edelman was also active around events and media. Also, former MLBer Kevin Youkilis (Tom Brady's brother-in-law) attended Super Bowl 52.

Congrats to Lurie and the Eagles

 Image result for jeff lurie super bowl
The Philadelphia Eagles, owned by Jeffrey Lurie, are Super Bowl Champs!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pre-Super Bowl Interview: NFL and CFL Coach Marc Trestman

Its Super Bowl week in Minnesota. The players, past and present, are here enjoying the Mall of America, great beer and all sorts of fun things. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a former Minnesotan; CFL and NFL coach Marc Trestman. Trestman was a NFL quarterback coach guru and then a champion in the CFL. But I know him best as the Head Coach for the Chicago Bears. After his stint with the Monsters of the Midway he eventually landed in Toronto winning another Grey Cup. As a Jewish sports fan, him being the Bears coach was amazing while it lasted. But I am always happy to see his success even if it wasn't at Soldier Field. I caught up with the CFL legend to talk Football.

1) The Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year, a place you are very familiar with; what do you think it means to Minnesota to be hosting?

It places Minnesota on the world stage. There is a lot of pride in that city. I am proud of the city, growing up with the Vikings. The Wilfs have done a phenomenal job with the team, the stadium and getting the entire city around it.

 2) You have always been known as a tremendous offensive mind and an ability to work well with quarterbacks. Who was the best to work with and why?
Truthfully I do not have favorites. They were all great. At the professional level they mostly have certain characteristics in common. They are relentless, courageous and have an ability to transcend the locker room.

3) You have coached in both the CFL and the NFL. What is the biggest difference?
Set o rules. Both great leagues. Players similar in work ethic and love of game. Coaching is coaching. Enjoyed both.

4) Looking back on your time with the Bears, is there anything you would have done differently?
You learn from every situation. I learned from it and have grown as a coach because of it. Anytime you learn its a good experience and leaders always are trying to learn and get better.

5) You have found the ultimate success in the CFL. What makes you so success up North?
Success is relative. Coaches are all leaders and that is the reason they have jobs. I have found that a great deal lies on the shoulders of the quarterback playing at a highly efficient level. Toronto has been remarkable. We have great owners, resources, and general manager. We are blessed with good players who love football and a great coaching staff.

6) Favorite Minnesota restaurant?
I don’t pick favorites.