Born in Cuthbert, GA, July 14, 1932, big Roosevelt Grier, aka Rosey, has enjoyed a multifaceted career that includes playing high school and college football (Penn State University), pro ball with the New York Giants and with the Los Angeles Rams as one of their historic Fearsome Foursome linemen, recording artist and songwriter, actor -- big and little screen -- politics, and now a minister.
After a stellar career at Penn State, Grier played right tackle for the New York Giants from 1955-1962; the Giants traded him to the Los Angeles Rams in 1963 where he completed the lineup known in football circles as the Fearsome Foursome: Grier, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olson, and Lamar Lundy. He weighed at least 300 pounds, probably more (the Giants' scale only went to 300) and could make tackles from sideline to sideline. A gentle giant, one of Grier's hobbies was needlepoint, the big guy preferred to tackle in a way as to not hurt his opponent. Problems with his weight and a pleasant disposition are the reasons Grier is not in the NFL Hall of Fame.
He started recording while with the Giants in 1959, cutting two singles on A Records: "Sincerely" and "Moonlight in Vermont" in 1960. Cranking out records on a yearly basis, nothing charted, and football remained his bread and butter. 45s on Spindle, Battle, Ric, Youngstown, and two on Liberty Records preceded his most sought-after single, a local/regional hit-and-miss entitled "Pizza Pie Man," an appropriate song for Rosey; it came out on Detroit's D-Town Records in 1966. An album he cut for Ric Records, Soul City, includes his two Ric singles: "Fool, Fool, Fool" and "In My Tenement" and fetches at least 85 dollars (in excellent condition) for oldie record sellers.
Snagging a deal with MGM Records, Grier cut two singles in 1967, the self-written "Slow Drag" and a remake of Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem." He retired from football the same year. Concentrating on recording and acting in earnest, he signed with Amy Records for a trio of singles from 1967-1968: the football related "Who's Got the Ball (Y'all)," another Grier composition "High Society Woman," and "Hard to Forget."
One-offs on AGP ("Bad News"), ABC ("Rat Race"), and United Artists Records ("Bring Back the Time") preceded a two-record deal on A&M Records, spawning two more non starters: "Beautiful People" (1973) and "If You Hit on a Good Lick, Lay on It" (1974). Two more bust outs on Bell and 20th Century Records ended a 25-record career on 14 labels with only minor successes. During the span Grier wrote more than 20 songs, many of which he recorded, on some he collaborated with Clyde Otis, a prolific writer with more than 800 titles registered with B.M.I.
His acting career started while he played with the Rams; he played Gabe Cooper on the Daniel Boone TV Series from 1964-1970. His silver screen credits include Skyjacked, Evil in the Deep, Black Brigade, The Glove: Lethal Terminator, Magnum Force, Oh God, The Longest Day, Mr. Kingstreet's War, Black Shampoo, Roots, The Three Mousekateers, The Son of Monte Cristo, Two-Laned Blacktop, Assault on Princent 13, Double Nickles, and The Executioner.
A minister now, Grier's most crowning achievement and what he's most known for is when he wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground after the assassin fatally wounded Robert Kennedy, June 5, 1968.