By: Joe Gill/Boston Sports Then and Now
August 21, 2010

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We honor Steve Grogan as the Boston Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month. The former Patriots quarterback left it all on the field during his 16 year career. Grogan was playing the "Patriots Way" before Bill Belichick introduced it in 2000. He led by example and his teammates were always behind him.

Grogan was drafted by Patriots coach Chuck Fairbanks in the fifth round of the 1975 draft out of Kansas State. He was one of the school's all time passing and total offense leaders. Grogan not only beat you with his arm but he was exceptionally quick for a man standing at 6'4".

The Patriots already had their franchise quarterback in place when he was drafted. Former Heisman Trophy winner, Jim Plunkett had been the Patriots starter for his first four years in the league. However, Coach Fairbanks was not afraid to make a move if a player was under-performing. It didn't matter who he was.

Midway through the 1975 season, Grogan was given the reigns of the Patriots offense. He started the last seven games with only one victory to his credit. As a rookie, Grogan posted respectable numbers with 1976 yards with 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

He also added 110 yards on the ground with three rushing scores.

This would just be a sneak preview for things to come from the lanky quarterback out of K-State.


Former Patriots great Steve Grogan (PHOTO: Icon/SMI)
The 1976 season would prove to be one of the franchise's finest. Grogan led the Patriots to a team best 11-3 record. His passing numbers were not eye popping by any means, but he did just enough to give his team a chance to win every week. Grogan posted 1903 yards passing with 18 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. However, he did much of his damage on the ground rushing for 397 yards and 12 rushing scores (still an NFL record).

In 1978, Grogan was part of a lethal rushing attack that amassed an astounding 3, 156 yards which is still the most rushing yards by a team in league history. The elusive signal caller contributed 539 yards to the lethal running game. This success on the ground helped lead the Patriots to their first home playoff game which they lost 31-14 to Houston.

Grogan closed the decade with his best passing season. He threw for over 3200 yards and 28 touchdowns. He was becoming a multi threat with his precision passing and his ability to tuck away the ball and run.

In the 80's Grogan suffered countless injuries and was benched in favor of the young Tony Eason who was supposed to be the team's next franchise quarterback.

Eason struggled out of the gate during the 1985 season and head coach Raymond Berry turned to his 10 year veteran to spark the floundering team. Grogan did not disappoint. He let the Patriots to six straight wins before breaking his leg during the week #11 match-up versus the NY Jets.

The team finished at 11-5 and became the first team to win three playoff road games to reach Super Bowl XX. However, the magic ran out for New England when they were pasted by the Chicago Bears 46-10. Grogan relieved Eason in the second quarter and finished the game with 177 yards and threw for team's only score.

Quarterbacks came and went but Grogan remained with Patriots. He was the team's passing leader in the '87 and '89 seasons before hanging up his cleats after the 1990 season.

Grogan also left his mark on New England Patriots history. He is the team's all time passing leader with 26,886 yards and 182 touchdowns.

Grogan also boasts the best passing game in franchise history with a 227.8 QB rating against the NY Jets in 1979. He had 13 completions for 315 yards and five scores.

Grogan also shows up in the Patriots media guide as a dynamic rusher as well. He posted 2164 yards and 35 touchdowns on the ground in his career and his 12 rushing scores in 1976 is still a NFL record.

During his 16 years as a New England Patriot, he was the model of consistency and true determination. He battled injuries and his share of young guns, but more often than not, Grogan was standing behind center.

Grogan is member of the New England Patriots Hall Of Fame.

Joe Gill is a guest columnist for PatsFans.com, and a featured contributor to Boston Sports Then and Now where you can read his regular column: "Cup Of Joe" every Tuesday and Thursday.  If you have a story idea or just want to talk sports, you can also e-mail Joe directly at bostonsportsthenandnow@gmail.com


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