Burt Grossman was known for shooting off his mouth as much as for anything he did on the field. In 1989, for instance, the San Diego Chargers' defensive end took aim at fellow rookie Tim Worley, a running back who had been picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers just ahead of Grossman in the first round of the NFL draft. Though both players held out for about a month, Grossman called Worley "stupid" because he had threatened to go to insurance school if the Steelers didn't meet his demands. "Do you know how long it would take to sell enough policies to get $4 million?" Grossman asked. "Insurance school--what a fallback! I'm sure that really put the crunch on the Steelers."
The former pass rusher, who near the end of his career fashioned himself a Rush Limbaugh in cleats, now sells insurance for New York Life. "I've been doing this for three years, and I still haven't made [$4 million]," says Grossman, 38, chuckling. One of only 10 NFL players to record double-digit sack totals in each of their first two seasons, he played six years in the pros before a series of injuries forced him to retire. Grossman hasn't attended an NFL game since. ("I lost interest," he says.) The only teammates he stays in contact with are Mark Bavaro and Junior Seau.
The former wild child has become a family man, trading his surf shack in La Jolla, Calif., for a ranch house outside San Diego, which he shares with his second wife, Lilly, and sons Quinn, 2, and Bryson, three months. ("The boys aren't into football ... yet," says Grossman.) His once menacing menagerie--which included a boa constrictor, piranhas and alligators--has been replaced by three golden retrievers.
What hasn't changed is his outspoken nature. In his 1996 autobiography, The Way Things Oughta' Be Told, he took shots at NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue (a "congenital nerd") and admitted he used steroids during college. "At the time it was a weird thing if you weren't taking them," says Grossman. "The bigger concern was, Where are we going to get the money to buy [steroids]?" He says he only stopped taking steroids because he tested positive at the 1989 NFL Combine and became subject to monthly testing. Grossman believes the government should try to curb steroid abuse among minors but not restrict anyone over 18. "If you can go to Iraq and get your head blown off, you should be able to take steroids," he says. "You're able to make an adult decision."
Like his idol Limbaugh, Grossman's still not afraid to fire off one more controversial salvo. --Ben Reiter
The pass-rushing wild child known for loose lips now sells insurance and steers clear of football--but not controversy.