Updated: Jul 13
Legendary Patriots Quarterback, Steve Grogan
Set the Gridiron on Fire With Robust Determination and Awe-inspiring Stamina
New England Patriots Hall of Famer Steve Grogan recognizes that it’s been a while since he played professional football. When he talks with young people now, they often don’t know exactly who he is. “So I just tell them I used to be Tom Brady,” he laughs. “Then they get it.”
He may no longer be a household name among the middle school set, but he certainly is among their parents and grandparents. Steve played 16 seasons with the New England Patriots, from 1975 to 1990. Under his leadership, the team reached the playoffs five times.
Steve spent his childhood in Ottawa, Kansas, with his parents and one younger brother. “My parents were very involved in community and church activities. They set a great example for my brother and me,” he says. Being a role model has always been important to him. “I’m just a regular person who was in the public spotlight and therefore tried to conduct his life in a good way and set a good example for kids and adults alike.”
Remembering the fine example set by his own parents helps Steve to articulate the importance of recognizing right and wrong when he speaks now to student groups. “In today’s anti-drug programs, they teach the kids to say no. ‘Just say no’ sounds easy, but it’s not. I explain to them how, when I played football, I had an offensive line that was protecting me, but sometimes the offensive line would break down and I would run for my life to get away from danger. And I try to tell them that their offensive line is their parents, their teachers, the police, the business people in their community, all of whom are there to help protect them, but they’re going to get into situations where that offensive line is not going to be around. So, I advise them that if they find themselves in an awkward situation that they’re not comfortable with, to get the heck out of there.”
Despite the success he eventually had in the NFL, he has known since childhood that victory is something that must be earned. “When I was born, my foot was kind of curled up and withered. My parents refused to accept this as a disability. They spent hours and hours stretching and moving my foot until it finally got back to normal. It never bothered me after that.”
Even if Steve can’t remember the physical therapy of his infancy, he thinks the spirit behind it imbued him with a sense of tenacity. “It seemed like throughout my career, from high school through college and then professionally, there was always a sense that someone better than me could be playing my position. I just kept working hard and doing the best I could and outlasted all of them.”
Recognizing he wasn’t always the best on the Patriots was an important element of personal growth for him. “One thing I realized is that humility is the number one asset for someone in a job like mine. It’s hard when someone tells you you’re not good enough anymore and then sits you on the bench,” he says. “I found that rather than moan and groan and complain about things, it was a much better approach to just go out every day and practice and have fun. You’re part of the team, you do what the coach asks you to do when you are asked to do it, and you stay ready to take over when the time comes.”
Role models throughout Steve’s boyhood made sure he understood that getting a good education needed to be his highest priority. “It was always stressed to me that school was important and that sports were not going to last forever. I was a member of the National Honor Society in high school and graduated with a degree after four years of college. And as much as I loved playing professional football, I knew that I had an education I could fall back on if things didn’t work out.”
At the same time, Steve says, he believes that there are lessons to be learned on the playing fields that are different from those garnered in the classroom. “If you have a strong education plus the discipline, dedication and confidence that you learn by being a part of a team sport, you have an advantage over somebody who has never played competitive sports. You learn special skills by working as part of a team. You learn to work with all kinds of different people. So no matter what situation you find yourself in after your football career has ended, you’re well prepared to work with just about anybody.”
For Steve, the life skills he picked up both as a student and as an athlete are still paying off in his current endeavor as the proprietor of Grogan Marciano Sporting Goods, a business that he bought sixteen years ago. Along with striving to make his business ever more successful and enjoying time with his wife, Steve is focusing right now on wellness and trying to improve his physical condition. “Back in the spring I lost one of my teammates, Mosi Tatupu. Only 54 years old, he died of a heart attack. It was a wake-up call to a lot of us who played with him. We’re all getting older, and maybe some of us weren’t taking as good care of ourselves as we should have been. I definitely decided to get back in the gym on a regular basis even though sometimes it’s painful to do that.”
It’s all part of his belief that you should never rest on your laurels. With his continuous quest for self-improvement and his faith that there are lessons to be learned from every situation, Steve Grogan exemplifies the qualities of an Insightful Player® team member.
Instant replay of Steve’s guiding principles:
Recognize your flaws and use them as areas for improvement.
Try to develop a sense of perspective as far as what is truly important in life and what is not.
Understand that you have your own “offensive line” which may include parents, teachers, coaches, clergy, police, and adult community members, all trying to help you do the right thing as you grow up.
Sometimes in difficult situations involving peer pressure, the best thing to do is simply run. Rather than struggling time and again to overcome the pressures or temptations posed to you, learn to avoid or escape these situations altogether.
Persist at those pursuits that matter most to you. Sometimes success isn’t about being the best but rather outlasting the competition.
Don’t submit to jealousy or over-competitiveness. Keep your focus on your own goals rather than on who is getting there before you; your time will come if you keep working at it.
Make your education one of your highest priorities. In the end, it will probably get you farther than any athletic talents will.
Develop your team skills: learn to work with others and learn from their differences.
Honor your sense of humility. In acknowledging the greatness of others, you open in yourself the potential to stand among them.
Take care of yourself physically: make physical fitness and other forms of physical health a priority.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book, INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
©2010 Insightful Player, LLC
Steve Grogan is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.