Local community leader and former San Diego Chargers defensive end Burt Grossman has been tabbed as the first-ever head of the Indoor Football League's San Diego Strike Force.
A former first-round pick of the Chargers in 1989, eighth overall out of the University of Pittsburgh, Grossman spent seven seasons in the NFL, including five with the Chargers (1989-93) and two (1994-95) with the Philadelphia Eagles. A serious neck injury ended his career prematurely in 1996, but not before Grossman wrapped up his career having totaled 276 tackles and 43.5 sacks.
"I'm excited for this opportunity and I want to thank Strike Force President Greg Anderson and General Manager Brian Cox for believing in me and offering me the chance to serve as the franchise's first head coach, it's truly an honor" said Grossman. "I know that there are a lot of football fans in San Diego who are hungry to embrace a team they can call their own and be proud of, and we're going to do everything we can on the field and in the community to give them just that."
"We can't think of a better coach and person to lead our team into this first season here in San Diego than Burt," said Anderson. "Not only did he prove and establish himself on the field as a player here in San Diego, but more importantly he's done some incredible things in the community and he's exactly the kind of leader we wanted for the Strike Force."
Since retiring from the NFL, Grossman has dedicated his life to helping contribute to youth sports, as well as the underprivileged and special-needs communities.
A sociology major at Pitt, Grossman is a board member for the San Diego High School Sports Association and a youth advisory-council member for the San Diego County Office of Education. He coached football at both Castle Park and Hoover High Schools in San Diego. At Hoover, he served as the director of the school's Cardinal Connect Academy in collaboration with Able-Disabled Advocacy, a nationally recognized dropout-prevention program. And he founded the free low-income student MTS pass program (Safe Passages), which later was adopted by the city for all low-income students. In 2011, Grossman was named the NFL's National Educator of the Year. In 2012, he was featured in an ESPN "Outside the Lines" segment profiling community difference makers. And in 2013, he received the San Diego County High School Sports Association's annual Community Service Award.
San Diego Youth sports is another area where Grossman has been very active. He served as the president for Eastlake's youth football and cheer teams from 2013-16, and he is a board member for the Southwest Sports Wellness Foundation, an agency that provides more than 5,000 South Bay student-athletes with free medical care. And Grossman founded the Sweetwater High School District's "Heads Up football" safety program as it became the first district on the West Coast to implement this player safety concussion program in conjunction with the NFL.
From 2013-15, Grossman served as the NFL's Heads-Up Youth Sports Safety Ambassador for Southern California and in 2013, he received San Diego's South County Youth Football Volunteer of the Year Award. In 2014, Grossman helped arrange the donation of new uniforms for the Sweetwater High School football team and in 2015, he helped secure 5,000 new helmets for the Imperial Beach Chiefs Youth Football. Also, over a four-year stretch (2012-15), Grossman helped secure more than $85,000 in NFL-funded charity grants for the City Heights and Mount Hope neighborhoods of San Diego.
San Diego's special needs community also has benefitted greatly from Grossman's benevolence. From 2013-14, he served as the director for Career-Smart, a program that provides vocational training, support services and job placement assistance to special education students in the Sweetwater District through funding provided by the Workforce Partnership. During that time, he helped place 30 special education students into jobs and post-secondary education.
In 2015, he served as an honorary captain for Special Olympics' Los Angeles World Games flag football competition.
A father of two boys, Grossman is currently the Program Director and Mentoring Coordinator for the Able-Disabled Advocacy in San Diego. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels and is the Executive Director of the San Diego Adaptive Sports and Recreation Association. On the side, Grossman does television and radio work with KUSI-TV and the Mighty 1090 and he has won two Emmy awards for his broadcast work
The latest entry to the 10-team Indoor Football League (IFL), the Strike Force will play its home games at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The team will kick off the 2019 season on Feb. 22 against the Quad City Steamwheelers in Moline, Illinois. Grossman will make his head coaching debut in San Diego on Sunday, March 3 when the Strike Force plays host to the Tucson Sugar Skulls.