From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louis Roy Groza (January 25, 1924 - November
29, 2000) was an American football placekicker who played
his entire career for the Cleveland Browns.
Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio to Hungarian immigrants, he was
the smallest (at 6' 3") of three brothers in a decidedly athletic
family. He played one season for Ohio State University, where he
was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, before being drafted
into the Army. Upon discharge, Groza joined the Browns, who were
then in the All-America Football
Conference. He stayed with the team until 1959. After a brief
retirement, he returned to play from 1961-1967. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,
his 21 years of play was unprecedented up to that time, and when he
retired, he was last of the original Browns still active.
While renowned for his kicking ability, Groza also played and
started during most of his career as offensive tackle for the Browns. He
was very proficient at both positions, named nine times to the NFL Pro Bowl and was All-NFL
tackle six times. Groza also led the NFL in field
goals in 1950, 1952-54, and 1957. In 1950, his field goal with
30 seconds left won the NFL Championship Game. In 1957, he also
co-led the NFL in scoring. He was named the Sporting News' NFL
Player of the Year in 1954. However, he played exclusively as a
kicker during his second stint with the Browns.
Groza was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
His number 76 is retired by the Browns. The Palm Beach County
Sports Commission established the Lou Groza Award in 1992, an award given
to the best NCAA Football
Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) kicker. In 1999, he was
ranked number 99 on 100 Greatest Football Players. The Browns'
training facility in Berea, Ohio is located at 76 Lou Groza
In 1996 Groza wrote an autobiography of his time playing for the
Browns called The Toe: The Lou Groza Story. Robert
Yonkers, who used to be a sportswriter for The Cleveland
Press, gave him the nickname "The Toe."
The "Lou Groza Rule" in the NFL prohibits use of artificial aids
for kickers. Lou used tape and later a special tee with a long tail
to help him guide his foot to the sweet spot of the football when
kicking. The 1956 rule banned Lou's tape.
Groza's brother Alex
Groza was a star basketball player at the University of Kentucky, winning
two national championships and an Olympic gold medal before playing
in the NBA and
coaching in the American Basketball Association. In 1950
Lou Groza led the NFL in field goal percentage and Alex Groza led
the NBA in field goal percentage.
Lou Groza died in 2000 and is buried in Sunset Memorial Park in
North Olmsted, Ohio.
Groza, Lou. (2003). The Toe: The Lou Groza Story". Cleveland:
Gray & Company Publishers. ISBN 1-886228-80-9.
Vigil, Vicki Blum (2007). Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones,
Symbols & Stories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company,
Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-025-6