Remembering Legendary Director Sandy Grossman
A little more than two weeks ago the sports production industry lost a legend when Director Sandy Grossman passed away at 78 following a long battle with cancer. Grossman transformed sports coverage at two national networks, first CBS Sports and then Fox Sports, and also expanded the concept of what could be done technically in order to tell the story of a sports event.
For a complete overview of his career please click here but the remainder of this article will serve as a place for those who knew and worked with Sandy to remember him and share their thoughts with the SVG community. If you are interested in submitting a special memory or comment about Sandy please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it as soon as possible.
Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports, EVP, Engineering, Operations, and Production
After hearing of Sandy’s passing everyone I spoke to was saddened but everyone had a wry smile on his or her face at the same time. Sandy is remembered so fondly by so many. Assistant directors, production assistants, camera operators, graphics operators, technical managers, production managers…all alike have good memories of working with Sandy. Sandy was about getting the job done, doing it well, and having a good time while you were doing it. He was beloved by his crews.
Glenn Adamo, NFL, Vice President, Media Operations
Sandy was incredibly creative and always wanted to talk about how to make the coverage better. My first meetings with Sandy were when I was working at the NHL and he really wanted to help “sell” the game. Sandy got it creatively and was a risk taker. But he was also a real student of the game and he made the NHL on FOX better by being the lead director, we were lucky to have someone so talented!
When I left to go to the NFL it was the same Sandy who would call me and we would have lunch and talk about all the things we could do to make the broadcast of the game better. He was relentless in such a good way because his passion was television and directing and he spent every waking minute trying to figure out ways to do it better. We were blessed to have him in our lives as he made everyone he worked with better. And his work, passion, and creativity will be sorely missed. I personally have lost a good friend and confidant that I always respected and valued for his opinion.
Charlie Carlucci, CBS Sports, Graphics
Sandy worked with John Madden for most of his career and was very involved with what replays John would want to talk about and use his famous telestrator on. They would communicate over John’s cough key and quickly decide what replay would tell the story. Sandy worked with John from the beginning and helped mold the Madden persona.
Bob Fishman, CBS Sports, Lead Director
Sandy Grossman was a mentor and a friend. When I joined CBS Sports in 1975, he was already one of the leaders in the coverage of major sports events. Working alongside him and seeing his passion, kindness and creativity was inspiring.
Learning to choose the right camera shot for the moment was one of his great strengths, along with his desire to take chances. I learned those things from him as I made the transition from the NFL Today studio show to the remote, and have applied them to everything I have covered.
His pride in his work was contagious and his demeanor was why he had complete loyalty from his crew. That was, perhaps, his greatest asset, because without it, a director has no chance at being successful.
I will think of him often when I put on a headset, always reflecting on our friendship and what he taught me. Rest in peace, Sandy.
George Graffeo, CBS Sports, Camera Operator
Sandy Grossman was a television icon. When working a live broadcast with Sandy we knew we had to be prepared. Anything less than 110 percent was not acceptable. When CBS broadcast the NBA, Sandy was the lead director. He directed all NBA games as if each game was a Final. I remember one camera meeting when Sandy brought in newspapers photos. The photos were taken the night before a NBA game that Sandy directed on CBS. Sandy wanted to know why we didn’t capture similar shots. He wanted more, he pushed the camera crew to seek out the less obvious. I loved that about him. He made me think, study and look for a story line, something I continued to do throughout my career. Sandy, will be remembered as a great director. I’ll remember him for the way he inspired me and taught me how to tell a story, but more importantly, I remember him as a good friend.
David Hill, News Corp, Senior Executive Vice President
Thanks to Bob Rosen, I was able to talk to Sandy [before he died] and wish him well on his trip to Valhalla. He was a sports production warrior. Never satisfied with the status quo, always trying to make it better, always pushing his crew to greater heights – if there wasn’t an envelope to push, Sandy would create one. Working with Bob ‘Silky Smooth’ Stenner, they created a behind the curtain team which equaled the legendary front of house team of Pat Summerall and John Madden. Watch any NFL game and you will see Sandy Grossman’s legacy.
Bob Matina, CBS Sports, Director
Sandy was quick, sharp and precise. When you sat behind Sandy and watched him work, you just knew you were watching someone who had mastered the craft.
The first live events I directed for CBS were NFL games. Sandy was, of course, the lead director and I studied everything he did. Always hard working, always into the details, always working to get Madden what he needed. Covering football was a science for him. We’re still doing a lot of the stuff Sandy invented.
When CBS got the Winter Olympics, Sandy got the call to direct hockey, something he hadn’t done a lot. He studied it, figured it out quickly, and then took it to the next level. He led the way on a design to put a live camera on the mask of the US goalie. We did it. It worked. That was classic Sandy.
Sean McManus, CBS Sports, Chairman
Sandy is as much a part of the great tradition and heritage of CBS Sports as anyone who has ever worked here. 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.
Jeff Ringel, CBS Sports, Technical Director
When I became a full time “road” technical director, you felt elevated to have the opportunity to work with Sandy and the “A” football crew. Sandy had the ability to direct you and keep you in his tight pace of cutting cameras, and at the same time watch all the monitors of the replay devices and call out VTR orders for replays, while his producer, Bob Stenner was able to produce his talent in the booth. He was a great professional who was good and tough but taught you good skills.
George Rothweiller, CBS Sports, Cameraman
No words can express how I feel about Sandy Grossman. He took a 21-year-old kid and made me what I am today and never doubted me. He allowed my instincts to run wild and opened up so many doors for me to grow in my craft. Because of that I was with him on every Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Olympics he did at CBS.
When we lost the rights to the NFL and he went to Fox he brought me over there along with others for one year as Fox got started, thanks in part to CBS which allowed it. I’ll be forever grateful.
Eric Shanks, Fox Sports, President and COO
Sandy Grossman was a great man, a true friend and one of the best directors in the history of sports television.
Sandy was one of the first production members hired by David Hill and Ed Goren in 1994 as they built FOX Sports from the ground up. He, along with Bob Stenner, Pat Summerall and John Madden formed our original lead NFL on FOX production team, and they gave us instant credibility.
Sandy directed seven Super Bowls on CBS beginning with Super Bowl X in 1975, and won an Emmy Award for his work on Super Bowl XIV in 1980. He also won the Directors Guild of America’s first award for Outstanding Sports Direction for his work on Super Bowl XVIII in 1985. Once at FOX Sports, Sandy directed three Super Bowls, including the dramatic comeback win by the New England Patriots over the St. Louis Rams in 2002, which was his last. He is the only individual to direct 10 Super Bowls.
Jerry Steinberg, Fox Sports Media Group, SVP, Field Operations
The Fox Sports DNA is made up of Sandy Grossman, along with Bob Stenner, John Madden and Pat Summerall. Without Sandy, who would have sat in the chair for the launch of the first Fox Sports NFL A game in 1995?
Sandy’s coverage of Super Bowls and Stanley Cups helped put Fox Sports on the map-gaining notoriety for the multiple Emmy’s achieved over his tenure with Fox.
David Hill and Ed Goren’s unique point of view, along with Sandy’s magic in the truck, helped Fox Sports evolve into what it is today.
Bob Stenner, longtime producing partner and CBS Sports/FOX Sports Producer
We started working together in the late 60’s all the way through the end of Sandy’s career with Fox. The thing I think of most with Sandy, is not as a great director, which he was of course, but as a father and a husband first. He was a great friend. We spent so much time together that we became a family and that was a big part of all the success we all enjoyed during those 21 years. We did everything together.
Sandy was really great at the preparation and film study that we were introduced to by John [Madden]. He spent a lot of time studying and truly understood the game. He could watch and breakdown tape like a player would and it made him a better director as a result. 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.
If you look around the big network shows now – Fox with Rich Russo and Richie Zyontz and Artie Kempner – all of those guys worked for Sandy and I at one point or another. I think one thing Sandy and I have always been proud of is we never tried to hold anyone back. Hopefully, people saw how Sandy and I acted – neither of us were ever screamers – and it helped them develop as their careers [progressed].
Richie Zyontz, Fox Sports Lead Producer
Sandy approached every event with respect for the competition and respect for the viewer. His instincts and timing were unrivaled and produced many magical moments throughout his career. I feel so fortunate to have worked with and learned from Sandy over the course of 30 years, but what I’ll miss most is his company and the laughs we shared. We really lost a big one with his passing.