|National Football League|
|The Redskins traded up to draft Russ Grimm, and he proved to be well worth the investment.|
No doubt Russ Grimm will have plenty of folks to thank when he makes his induction speech on Aug. 7 and is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When he mentions his former college coach, Jackie Sherrill, keep in mind that Grimm might not have become a football immortal if not for him.
So here's how the story goesâ¦ Grimm came to the University of Pittsburgh as a versatile 215-pound athlete who played both quarterback and linebacker in high school. It wasn't long before he beefed up to 240, and the coaching staff decided to make Grimm an offensive lineman. Grimm wanted no part of the O-line, however, so he said he was leaving the team and transferring to West Virginia. Sherrill knew that Grimm was leaning toward West Virginia because he had struck up a relationship with Mountaineers assistant coach Joe Pendry. So Sherrill hired Pendry to join the Pitt staff -- and Grimm opted to stay.
Grimm started on the line at center, did all the long-snapping and was also the backup punter. By the time Grimm graduated from Pitt he was a dominant force. He was a 270-pounder who was very, very athletic with great body control.
How great was the body control? Pitt went to the Gator Bowl one year under Sherrill and the team was working out in Daytona, Fla. I was down there to watch a few workouts. One day, Sherrill took the team to one of those rodeo-type places, and Grimm took a shot at the mechanical bull. He started at a low level, and made it up to level 10. Grimm, who would later be known as one of "The Hogs," could not be thrown off the bull.
Grimm also displayed good feet, smarts and toughness. They referred to him as the glue that held the team together both at Pitt and then with the Redskins.
Grimm was one of 12 players drafted off that outstanding 1980 Pitt team. Three Panthers went in the first round. Grimm wasn't one of them, but when the Los Angeles Rams were set to make their pick in the third round, Washington thought enough of Grimm that they traded away their 1982 first-round pick to the Rams so they could take Grimm.
Grimm was a dominant left guard in the NFL for the next 11 seasons, all with the Redskins. But don't take my word for it.
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White had to face Grimm twice a year in the intense Dallas-Washington rivalry. White recalled that Grimm was a bit raw when he first got to the NFL. "But after about his third year," said White, "he gave me more problems than anybody I ever played against."
White noted that left tackle Joe Jacoby would block down and redirect him toward Grimm. Jacoby would then block the linebacker and Grimm would take on White. And it was always a battle.
Note to the Hall of Fame selection committee: White added that Jacoby should be in the Hall as well. He and Grimm worked well together, and they should be reunited in Canton. (Don't be surprised if that comes up in Grimm's speech.)
Grimm played at a high level on some very good teams. And as Bill Parcells noted, he was not only a good football player but a real gentleman as well. Parcells relayed this story: Upon beating the Redskins one season when he was head coach of the Giants, Parcells was approached by Grimm after the game. "That's a real good football team you've got," Grimm told him, "and those two guys I was up against (Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall) are tough to beat." Parcells said that was the only time an opposing player has said something like that to him after a game.
Make no mistake, though: Grimm was a fierce competitor who won more battles than he lost against the best defensive linemen and linebackers in the NFL. And now he will take his rightful place in Canton.