Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier (July 14, 1932 - ) is a former NFL right tackle
with a long, post-football resume, including singing, acting, philanthropy,
Christian ministry, and needlepoint.
Grier was born in rural Georgia. One source I found suggested he was
named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though Roosevelt was not yet elected
president at the time of Grier's birth. He helped support his family by collecting
and selling produce, as well as by picking cotton, but he also taught
himself music at an early age. His father moved the family north to
when Grier was ten, and he took up and excelled at football. He went
on to play for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, and was also
In addition to football, he was also a member of a vocal
quartet in college, and majored in education and psychology.
After college, he moved on to professional football. He was an All-Pro player
with the New York Giants starting in 1955, but later became a
a defensive linesman with the Los Angeles Rams. He was
the Rams' first-string right tackle, and member of their "Fearsome Foursome"
from 1963 to 1966, a defensive line known for terrorizing opposing
quarterbacks. (Deacon Jones, a fellow member of the foursome is famous for
coining the term "sack" as a tackle of the quarterback.) At the time he was
playing, Grier was considered a giant player, weighing in at over 300 pounds.
However, he made a point to avoid injuring and brutalizing other players, and
sadly this good sportsmanship may have kept him from being as famous as
Jones became. Grier was
injured in 1967 and retired from the NFL in 1968.
Grier's post-NFL career(s) started off on a horrible note. In 1968, he was a supporter and bodyguard for Robert Kennedy. When Sirhan Sirhan shot
Bobby Kennedy after the California primary election on June 4, Grier and
several other men wrestled Sirhan to the floor. Unfortunately, Sirhan was
able to empty the gun, killing Kennedy and wounding several others including
a seven year-old boy. Grier was uninjured, but Bobby died and history was
changed. Sirhan was given life in prison, and remains there today.
Following this tragedy, Grier turned to acting and musical performance
including the final season of the television show Daniel Boone in 1969,
and several minor films including the tacky The Thing With Two
Heads in 1972, in which the head of a white man is grafted onto
Grier's body, Grier's character being a man wrongly convicted of murder.
However, he also played in the television mini-series
Roots: The Next Generations, a sequel to Alex Haley's original, in 1978.
And of course, he also sang "It's All Right To Cry" on the children's
television program Free To Be, You And Me, which I will always
remember him for. Greer has an outstanding, deep singing voice, and has
recorded and released several albums over the years.
In addition to his work in show business and football, Grier has done a
substantial amount of charity work. He has been on the board of directors
of the Special Olympics since 1968, and has worked as an advocate for
inner-city youth and the disadvantaged for many years. Grier is
also an ordained minister, and lectures and ministers throughout the
United States. After his religious conversion to evangelical christianity
in 1983, Grier stopped most of his work in Hollywood, saying most of
the roles he was offered were too violent or demeaning. However, in 1996
he was in the film Reggie's Prayer with Reggie White, another
ordained minister in football, about inner-city youth struggling to overcome
poverty and violence.
Finally, Grier has long been known for his enjoyment of needlepoint as a
hobby. He even stitched on the sidelines of NFL games while he was still
an active player and in 1973, he released the book
Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men. He apparently started stitching
on a whim, but found it to be a relaxing pastime.