Legendary NFL Director Sandy Grossman Dies at 78
Sandy Grossman, the legendary sports-TV director best known for working with Pat Summerall and John Madden on CBS’s and Fox Sports’ NFL coverage, died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 78.
“Sandy is as much a part of the great tradition and heritage of CBS Sports as anyone who has ever worked here,” says CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus in a statement. “His amazing directorial talents on the NFL truly distinguished him as one of the great directors in the history of sports television. For many years, Sandy Grossman’s name was synonymous with excellence in NFL coverage.
“It’s a sad day at CBS Sports,” he continues, “and our sympathies and prayers go out to the entire Grossman family.”
For 21 seasons, Grossman directed the iconic announcing duo, the three — along with producer Bob Stenner — moving from CBS to Fox when the fledgling sports network secured rights to the NFC in 1994. He also directed the NFL on Fox for five years, working with play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick and analyst John Davidson.
“Sandy was part of the original heart and soul of Fox Sports,” says Fox Sports President/COO Eric Shanks in a statement. “He was a brilliant director and a thoughtful colleague. He mentored many of us here and throughout the sports-TV industry, and we learned more from him than he could imagine. On behalf of everyone at Fox Sports, we extend our deepest condolences to Sandy’s family, who are in our thoughts and prayers. He’ll be greatly missed.”
In addition to his NFL regular-season work, he directed a record 10 Super Bowls — seven with CBS, three with Fox — as well as five Stanley Cup Finals (Fox) and 18 NBA Finals (CBS).
“Sandy was just amazing at the preparation and film study that we were introduced to by John [Madden],” says Stenner, whose work at the front bench with Grossman dates back to the late 1960’s. “He spent a endless amounts of time studying and he truly understood the game. He could watch and breakdown tape like a player would and it made him a better director as a result.”
Stenner adds: “In the truck, Sandy was calm and fair, but he was a tough, demanding [director] too. He understood the technology and how to use it better than anyone.”
An eight-time Emmy winner, Grossman received statues for directing such notable events as the 1980 Super Bowl and the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Winter Games. In addition, Grossman helped to mentor a whole generation of future front-bench stalwarts, including Super Bowl XLVIII producer-director team of Richie Zyontz and Rich Russo, and current lead director of NASCAR on Fox Artie Kempner.
“Sandy approached every event with respect for the competition and respect for the viewer,” says Zyontz. “His instincts and impeccable timing produced so many magical moments throughout his career. I feel so fortunate to have worked with and learned from Sandy over the course of thirty years. But what I’ll miss most are the laughs we shared and the good times we had. Our industry lost a great one with his passing and many of us lost a pal.”
Grossman was born in Newark, NJ, and studied broadcasting at the University of Alabama. After graduating in 1975, he spent two years as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He joined CBS Sports in 1963 and moved to Fox in 1994. Most recently, Grossman called Boca Raton, FL, home.
Grossman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Faithe, four children, and eight grandchildren.
“The thing I think of most with Sandy,” says Stenner, “is not as a great director, which he was of course, but as a father and a husband first. That is always what mattered to him most.”
SVG Managing Editor Jason Dachman contributed to this article.