“We belonged to a Conservative Synagogue, there weren’t many Reform at that time, which would have more so aligned with our family’s practice,” he said in an interview with The Great Rabbino: Jewish Sports Everything. “My Rabbi in addressing the congregation following my Bar Mitzvah service shared that they didn’t know if I was going to show up for the Service on time, but they knew they could find me out back playing football if I didn’t.”
Grossman was an All-State performer at Haverford High School, in suburban Philadelphia, where from a young age he would reply to the question, “What will you do when you grow up?” with the certain retort: “I’m going to be a professional football player.” He was a varsity letterman in both football and wrestling at Haverford Senior High School.
Grossman was an outstanding tight end (and three-year starter) for the Temple Owls in the early 1970s. In 1972, he caught 23 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns and Temple had a record of 5–4–0. The following year, Grossman was named Associated Press All-America third team and Temple notched a record of 9–1–0. That year, Grossman led the team in receptions with 39 for 683 yards and four touchdowns. Grossman finished his career at Temple with 89 receptions for 1,505 yards and 10 touchdowns. Temple football Coach Wayne Hardin called him “the best tight end I ever coached.”
Grossman joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1974. He showed his skill when he caught a crucial touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw early in Super Bowl X. In 1976, they drafted tight end Bennie Cunningham, behind whom Grossman played for two years, until the 1978 season when Cunningham was injured. Undersized and underweight, Grossman stepped up to the position and had a prolific season. In just 10 starts, Grossman had a career-high 37 receptions (the most by a Steeler tight end in 12 years) for 448 yards and one touchdown and contributed to the Steelers Super Bowl XIII win.
Grossman played three more years with the Steelers before retiring, earning four Super Bowl rings for Super Bowl IX, Super Bowl X, Super Bowl XIII, and Super Bowl XIV. During his pro career, he caught 118 passes for 1,514 yards and five TDs. He was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Grossman went on to become a certified financial planner.
Grossman said that his nickname of “The Rabbi” referred to his Jewish ancestry and came from Dwight White, who was the authority for assigning such titles to the Steelers. He also said he never faced any anti-Semitism during his career, because “in sports – in my era and currently – it really is the great melting pot,” he said. “If you ‘bring game,’ you’re fine. If you’re an imposter, then they’ll run you out regardless of what your religious preferences or ethnic background is. It was obviously different in the ‘60s, ‘50s, ‘40s, but from the time that I’ve been involved, it’s been completely open and purely performance-based acceptance or non-acceptance.”
Steelers President Dan Rooney said of Grossman: “Randy Grossman was one of those guys who was never viewed as one of the superstars, but he did everything you asked him. He caught the big touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. He was one of those guys who got you the first down when he would go in and play. He was just a real good competitor who really proved his value. He was just a good team man.”
Steelers Director of Personnel Art Rooney, Jr., said that Grossman’s hands were “the best,” and that “he caught whatever was near him.
Grossman and his wife Barb have three children.