When thinking of the greatest of those in the Cradle of Quarterbacks there are a few players that rise to the top of even that elite group. For example: Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter are considered to be in that group, but they are not among the top. Jim Everett broke some records, but only appeared in one bowl game. Among all those great quarterbacks, only one has led Purdue to a Rose Bowl victory.
Bob Griese is undoubtedly a Purdue legend. He is mostly known for his accomplishments on the football field, but few people today realize that he was also a pitcher for the Purdue baseball team during his time at Purdue as well as an excellent guard on the basketball team. In football he not only was the quarterback, but he served as the kicker and punter during one of Purdue's greatest runs of success.
When compiling this ICONS list I wanted to open it to all athletes, but among the top 25 no one branched out among so many sports as Griese. Even Rod Woodson limited himself to just track and football. Griese was skilled enough to not only play three sports, but excel at them including three positions in one sport. While he may not have been voted the #1 ICON, he might be the greatest all-around athlete in Purdue history. With 626 votes, including two first place votes, Bob Griese is the #3 Purdue ICON.
Griese was born in Evansville, Indiana on February 3, 1945. His father died when he was only 10, but he was a three-sport star basically from the time he could begin playing. He attended Evansville Rex Mundi High school, where he was a standout in football, baseball, and basketball. He was a starter from day 1 at the now defunct high school. Rex Mundi added football his freshman season and he was the starter all four years.
His versatility carried over to his college years. When being recruited, Griese only received offers from Purdue and Indiana. Purdue had had some decent seasons under Jack Mollenkopf before Bob got to West Lafayette, but they had been unable to break through and win the Big Ten. Bob chose Purdue because of this, and mostly because Mollenkopf was building something big.
Time at Purdue:
Basically, there wasn't anything Griese didn't do at Purdue. He went 12-1 on the mound one season while playing baseball. He saw regular PT at guard on the basketball team. Then there was football. He played quarterback, kicker, and punter, often scoring all of the team's points since he was a good runner too. There are rumors that he was also student body President, tended bar at Harry's, was a member of Sigma Chi, and he single-handedly built the State Street bridge over the Wabash on a free afternoon.
First, let's look at his basketball numbers. He only played one season in 1964-65, seeing action in 16 games. Purdue was 12-12 and among the wins was the last time we played Notre Dame in West Lafayette. Griese also helped Purdue defeated #7 Indiana 82-70 in late February. Griese scored 22 points and grabbed 33 rebounds, but was just 10 of 44 from the field. Though he didn't score much, he was listed as a starter.
In baseball he was a little better. He went 12-1 as a pitcher during the 1965 season as Purdue went 14-11-2. If Purdue had had a better baseball program at the time there is no telling if he would have followed a path to Major League Baseball. Football was his path though, and he would be a legend by the time he was done.
Griese's football credentials were enough to earn him College Football Hall of Fame honors in 1984. He became a starter during his sophomore year in 1964 at a time when freshmen were ineligible. Purdue went 22-7-1 during his three years as a starter, winning their first ever Rose Bowl appearance 14-13 over USC in his final game.
In the second game of his junior season Purdue pulled off a 25-21 upset of #1 ranked Notre Dame in West Lafayette. Purdue would have gone to Pasadena that year, but losses to Illinois and Michigan State cost the Boilers the Big Ten title. Purdue finished 7-2-1, tying Southern Methodist but sitting at home because there were very few bowls then.
His senior season was his signature year as Purdue finished 9-2. Both losses were to co-National Champs Notre Dame and Michigan State, who each finished 9-0-1 after tying each other. Since Michigan State had gone to Pasadena the year before and couldn't go in consecutive years because of Big Ten rules, Purdue was selected to go to the Rose Bowl. The Boilers finished that season ranked sixth, Griese picked up his second All-America honor, and he was runner-up for the Heisman. The 14-13 victory over USC still stands as the biggest win in Purdue football history. He was also inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame for his performance.
Amazingly, Griese still ranks in the top 20 in career rushing touchdowns with 14. He is 10th in career passing attempts and completions. His 86.4% completion percentage against Notre Dame in that 1965 game stood as a school record until Kyle Orton broke it against Ball State in 2004. He still ranks 10th for his career in that category, as well as in passing yards and passing touchdowns with 28. His final two years he was the Big Ten's leading passer and leader in total offense. In 1966 he won the Big Ten scoring title with six rushing touchdowns, four field goals, and 20 PAT's in big ten play.
Many of his numbers don't stand up because passing games today are much more sophisticated than they are now. Carson Wiggs recently passed him in career points, but he is still ninth in scoring because of his days as a kicker. For his career he was 10 of 15 on field goals.
Bob's career was good enough to be remembered as one of college football's all-time greats even if he didn't do much in the pros. True badasses don't settle for that though. Bob went out and had one of the best Pro careers ever, earning the rare career double of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Griese was drafted 4th overall by the Miami Dolphins in 1967 AFL Draft, and he would play with them for his entire career until 1980. His name is currently in the Ring of Honor at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin(s)/LandShark/SunLife Park/Stadium.
Griese had immediate success in the AFL, throwing for 2,005 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie while earning AFL All-Star Honors. He was an All-Star in his second year, then he was named to six additional Pro Bowls later in his career. In true badass fashion, Griese did this for an expansion team His rookie season was just the second in Dolphins history, and he became the lynchpin for the team's greatest run off success.
He is perhaps best known for his play in the Super Bowl. Griese led the Dolphins to three consecutive Super Bowls, winning two of them. He was also the quarterback for the famous 1972 Miami Dolphins and the only perfect team in modern NFL history. After losing Super Bowl VI to the Cowboys Miami came back to roll their regular season schedule 14-0 before winning all three playoffs games. Griese missed most of that season after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in the fifth game of the season.
Earl Morrall came in and won the rest of the regular season games as well as a playoff game overt he Browns. Griese returned for the AFC championship and beat the Steeelers. Griese was then 8 of 11 for 88 yards in a 14-7 win over the Redskins in the Super Bowl to cap the perfect season. The next year Griese led the Dolphins to a dominant victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII.
Here is where things get interesting. Griese never returned to the Super Bowl after the 1973 season, but he continued to play solid football until the end of his career in 1980. In 1977 he started wearing glasses on the field when he revealed that he was legally blind in his right eye. That's correct: One of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time played most of his career while only being able to see out of one eye.
Bob finished his career with 25,092 yards passing and 192 touchdown passes. Those aren't huge numbers, but Griese was known mostly for his leadership on the field. His #12 jersey has been retired by the Dolphins and it is a jersey still held in high regard at Purdue.
Post playing Career
Since retiring as a player Griese has served as a color analyst for NBC, ABC, ESPN, and CBS sports. His son Brian led Michigan to a National Championship after the 1997 season with his dad providing color commentary for ABC of the Rose Bowl game where Brian completed the perfect season for the Wolverines. It was an especially moment for both Grieses, as Bob's wife Judi had died from breast cancer earlier.
Bob also provided commentary for several Purdue games on ABC, but got himself in trouble for controversial remarks made on air. While doing colelge football coverage for ESPN he served a one event suspension after saying NASCARdriver Juan Pablo Montoya was "Out having a taco" when a list of the top NASCAR drivers was promoted. I'm not sure why Bob was doing NASCAR analysis, but this was a guy who seemed to naturally play any sport. He could probably break down a cricket match if you explained the rules to him.
All told, Griese was known as one of the top color commentators in college football, even maintaining his neutrality when he covered his son's games. He announced his retirement recently, presumably to find a fourth thing in life that he can become dominant at. This is the type of guy that will probably be a shuffleboard and checkers champion in 30 years at whatever home he is living in.
Bob continues to have a lasting legacy at Purdue, as he has established a $250,000 endowment for Purdue student athletes, specifically the starting quarterback on the football team. The man is a winner and a success at everything he does, just like all Purdue alums should be.