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Chargers’ ‘Mr. Muscles’ remembered

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, May 13, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    GEORGE GROSS 1941-2010

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    In the early 1960s, the bulk of the Chargers did their offseason weightlifting at Sterns Gym in North Park. Bob Petrich, a starting defensive end, remembers watching tight end Jacque MacKinnon hoist 285 pounds off the ground, then straining to lift it once above his head.
    About that time, in walked defensive tackle George Gross. Petrich says Gross lifted the weight off the ground, cranked out 10 repetitions and said, “OK, I’m warmed up.”
    Hence, Gross’ nickname: “Mr. Muscles.”
    Said Petrich: “I’ve known two guys in my life who were beyond-comprehension strong. One was Houston Ridge. The other was George.”
    Gross, who played for the Chargers from 1963 to ’67, died last month of organ failure in Fairhope, Ala. He was 69.
    Gross was born in Weilau, Romania. During the Soviet Union’s occupation of Romania in the 1940s, Gross’ family moved to a Displaced Persons Camp in Austria, said Gross’ son, Erich Gross.
    The family later moved to the United States. Gross would play football and was a heavyweight conference champion wrestler at Auburn.
    Playing on a Chargers defensive line that included Petrich, Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Gross was considered a big man with a soft heart.
    “He was a little bit shy, which was probably to the benefit of the rest of the world,” Petrich said. “If he had been aggressive, there would have been a lot of trouble.”
    Erich remembers when his older brother, Ken, came home and told their father he was trying out for wrestling at Granite Hills High.
    Erich said his father cleared the living-room floor, “then my brother being bounced off the floor and tied in knots. I remember running upstairs and saying I was never going out for wrestling.”
    Erich would play football at Granite Hills, but his father passed on offering coaching tips at practice.
    “He didn’t want it to be about him,” Erich said. “He wanted it to be my time.” But before Erich’s first junior varsity game, his father showed up in the locker room, told his son to put on his helmet, take a stance and hit him.
    Said Erich, “I’m thinking, ‘I’m 16, I’m going to hurt him.’ ”
    Instead, Erich was sent rattling off the lockers. His dad invited Erich to come at him a second time. “I tried to hit him as hard as I could. I wanted to put him in the hospital,” Erich said.
    Instead, he wound up bouncing off the lockers again.
    Recalled Erich, “He said, ‘Don’t lose,’ and walked away.”
    After retiring as a player, Gross lived in El Cajon and worked in the real estate and mortgage business.
    He liked growing roses and making home-brewed beer. Gross moved to Alabama in 2000.
    A private memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at an undisclosed San Diego location. He is survived by two brothers, his wife, Janet, sons Ken and Erich, and a daughter, Jennifer.
  2. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    They need to make all current NFL players take pics that that one.

  3. TheLash

    TheLash Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2006
    And he brewed his own beer:icon_toast:
  4. sdbound

    sdbound Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2006

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