BIGPLAY’s NFL 100: 100 Personalities From the NFL’s First 100 Years: #15 Roosevelt Grier

The Life of NFL Great Rosey Grier

photo courtesy of Codey Dauch, BIGPLAY

Another member of the “Fearsome Foursome” makes his way onto our list and this time it’s defensive tackle Roosevelt (Rosey) Grier. Besides playing in the NFL, he has been an actor, singer, activist and minister, once again profiling a player who was more than just an athlete.

Photo Courtesy of AP Photo

Grier was drafted in the third round of the 1955 NFL Draft by the New York Giants where he was coached by Giants defensive coordinator Tom Landry. In 1956 he helped the Giants win an NFL Championship. In 1963, the Giants traded Grier to the Los Angeles Rams, where he joined Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy as one of the greatest defensive line groups in the history of the NFL. Grier played until 1966 and retires with 44 ½ career sacks.

Photo Courtesy of AP

One episode from Grier’s post-playing career that is fascinating and historic was his closeness to 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Grier was one of the many people standing behind Kennedy when he won the California presidential primary. When the speech was over Kennedy exited the ballroom and was led through the kitchen where an assassin named Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy. Grier, along with others, wrestled Sirhan to the floor.

Grier exemplifies the idea of people over politics and that why in 1984, Grier spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of President Ronald Reagan’s reelection and in 2008 was in the audience the night Barack Obama accepted the nomination at the Democratic National Convention. Grier wanted more than anything to help all people have a better future.

In the late 1960s and all through the 1970s, Grier appeared in television shows and films. He guest-starred in television classics like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Quincy, M.E. and Kojak. Additionally, he was in the cult-classic The Thing with Two Heads as well as the iconic miniseries Roots: The Next Generations.

Grier was a ferocious player on the field but a gentle giant off of it. In fact, he wrote an autobiography titled, Rosey, an Autobiography: The Gentle Giant.

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