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Elvis Grbac

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Elvis Grbac

Elvis Grbac
No. 11, 18
Personal information
Date of birth: (1970-08-13) August 13, 1970
Place of birth: Cleveland, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school: Cleveland (OH) St. Joseph
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1993 / Round: 8 / Pick: 219
Debuted in 1993 for the San Francisco 49ers
Last played in 2001 for the Baltimore Ravens
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TD-INT 99–81
Passing yards 16,774
QB Rating 79.6
Stats at

Elvis M. Grbac (; born August 13, 1970) is a retired American football quarterback who played in the NFL. During his career he was a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. In college he was a three-time passing efficiency champion, a Sammy Baugh Trophy-winner and the quarterback for Heisman Trophy-winner Desmond Howard. Drafted by San Francisco 49’ers in 1994, and serving in his rookie year as the backup to Steve Young on a Super Bowl championship team, he went on to play seven more seasons, starting 70 of the 106 games he played for San Francisco (1994–96), Kansas City (1997-2000) and Baltimore (2001).

During his career, Grbac was on one Super Bowl-winning team with the 49ers, and won one AFC West title in 1997 while quarterbacking the Chiefs. He still holds six All-Time records with the Chiefs, including: Most touchdowns passes in consecutive games (15), Lowest percentage, passes had intercepted (3.04), and Most yards gained in a single game (504).

He currently makes his home in Chagrin Falls, and is now an assistant quarterbacks coach for Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

Early life

Grbac was born in Cleveland to Ivan and Cecilija Grbac[1] His father was born in Lanišće, near Buzet, Istra, Croatia, and his mother was also from Istra.[2] His parents left Croatia in 1967 with their two eldest children, Maria and Engelbert (Elvis's eldest sister and brother) seeking the freedom to practice Catholicism and a life free from communist rule. Growing up in Cleveland, he did not learn to speak English well until kindergarten, having been raised with Croatian as his mother tongue.[3]

Grbac has always been proud of his Croatian heritage, and of his Istrian roots. His whole family particularly suffered the Croatian Conflict, when they picked up the newspaper or watched the TV news and saw their ravaged homeland and the malnourished Croatians in Serbian detention camps, the Grbacs were thankful that their village, Lanišće, located in an Istrian mountain valley off the Alps range (in the province of Buzet), was not a battle site. In an interview his mother, Cecilija, declared about the situation of the Croatian people in the War, that: "we know they must stay and fight for what they have", Elvis added "we know the country is not being run right, and we understand the history of hatred between Croatia and Serbia. But they have always lived simple life of hard work, a family-oriented survival. And that will continue."

Grbac began to practice alone in football already at the age of four, admiring what could happen by airing out his arms toward a moving target. It all started with a chicken; at his grandmother's house in his homeland, Istra, at four years old he threw a rock at a chicken and killed one, the chicken was 15 yards away and Grbac hit it perfectly.[2]

It was apparent soon after Grbac arrived at St. Joseph High School that the storied athletic power on the shores of Lake Erie had landed another special talent to compete in the Columbus blue and scarlet. The sturdy 6-5 youngster made his first impact in basketball, then added football to his resume in his junior year in 1987. Although playing in a run-oriented offense, featuring a remarkable talent named Desmond Howard, he attracted enough attention on the gridiron to earn honorable mention All-Ohio honors and a decade later would become the first Viking athlete to be honored be having his numbers retired in two sports – # 12 in football and # 53 in basketball.[4]

Originally interested in continuing his football career at Ohio State, he changed his mind when the Buckeyes fired Head Coach Earl Bruce and opted instead to join teammate Howard at Michigan. It was a great move for both Michigan and Howard. As a four-year starter for the Wolverines, Grbac led them to four Big 10 titles, leading the conference in passing in 1990, 1991 and 1992 while setting nine Michigan passing records. In 1991 he threw the legendary pass to Howard which sealed a 24-14 victory over Notre Dame and led to Howard’s now immortal “Heisman Pose” in the end zone celebration.[4] In that memorable game Grbac even completed 20 of 22 passes, a record for a Notre Dame opponent.

College career

Elvis Grbac played college football at the University of Michigan from 1989 to 1992. He led the Wolverines to a Gator Bowl in 1991, three Rose Bowls in 1989 and 1993 and 1992 and is best remembered for throwing to wide receiver Desmond Howard during the latter's Heisman-winning campaign in 1991. Grbac finished his career at Michigan as the school's all-time leader in passing attempts (835), completions (522), passing yards (6,460) and passing touchdowns (71). These marks were later broken by John Navarre in 2003 and surpassed by Chad Henne in 2006–07.

He also established the Big Ten Conference career passing efficiency record that would stand for six seasons until it was surpassed by Joe Germaine.[5] Grbac was a two-time NCAA passing efficiency champion during his last two seasons.[6] He was a three-time Big Ten champion in this statistic.

College Stats

Passing Rushing
Season Team GP Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
1989 Michigan Wolverines 12 73 116 62.9 824 8 3 20 -103 0
1990 Michigan Wolverines 12 155 266 58.3 1911 21 10 22 17 0
1991 Michigan Wolverines 12 165 254 65.0 2085 25 6 23 -103 0
1992 Michigan Wolverines 12 129 199 64.8 1640 17 12 15 -50 1
Totals 48 522 835 62.5 6460 71 31 80 -239 1

NFL career

NFL Draft

At the University of Michigan under coaches Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller, he posted a 30-5-3 record (.829) as a starter, led the nation in passing efficiency his final two seasons, set school records in virtually every major passing category and guided the squad to a Rose Bowl triumph his senior year.

With those very good skills, Grbac was drafted in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he served as Steve Young's backup from 1994 to 1996.

San Francisco 49ers

1994 season

Dealt with an injury and being taken in and out of the lineup by then-Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while throwing one interception.

In his rookie season, with a QB rating of 98.2, two touchdowns, 55 passes attempted and 35 completed, Grbac helped the 49ers to win their fifth NFC Championship, he also played in the Super Bowl XXIX final, as a substitute, while attempting two passes only.

1995 season

Grbac played a total of sixteen games with 49ers, in which five as a starting quarterback, recording a QB rating of 96.6, 183 passes attempted and 127 completed, 8 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing, 1469 yards gained, and a seasonal Team-Record for the Longest Completed Pass Thrown, of 81 yards, whereby he even exceeded the starting quarterback Steve Young.

1996 season

In 1996 season, Grbac played a total of 15 regular season's games, 4 as a starter, passing for 10 touchdowns and rushing for 2, with a total of 122 passes completed and 1236 yards gained. In 1997 Grbac signed with the Kansas City Chiefs to be their starting quarterback.

Kansas City Chiefs

1997 season

Grbac in huddle with the Chiefs in 1997.

He replaced Steve Bono as the Chiefs starter in 1997. He orchestrated a Monday Night Football comeback in Week Two against Oakland in this season. Despite trailing by two touchdowns late in the second half, Grbac rallied Kansas City's troops by directing a six-play, 80- yard touchdown drive without the benefit of a single time-out, culminating that comeback with a 32-yard game-winner to Andre Rison with 0:03 remaining to seal a 28-27 Chiefs win.[7]

"You can take our season last year and compare it to Oakland's season last year", commented Grbac, who won AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for that 312-yard, two-TD effort. "That game was really a turning point. Late in the game we were down by a lot and just kept coming back and kept coming back. But everybody kept playing to the final second. That was the mark of our team last year."[7]

In the 1997 season with his 12 touchdowns, 1943 yards gained and 179 completed passes by a total of 314 attempted, Grbac led the Chiefs to their fourth AFC West Division championship, as the squad finished the year with six consecutive victories, a first in team history.[8] The 1997 season was also the beginning of a quarterback controversy, when Elvis started the first nine games and suffered an injury, leading to Rich Gannon's substitution for the next six games.[9] Grbac would return in the team's season finale.[9] Gannon won five consecutive starts down the stretch to help the Chiefs earn home-field advantage with a 13–3 record.[10] Grbac was an excellent quarterback, and a talented thrower,[11] while Gannon was an aggressive leader who demanded the most of his players.[11] Grbac was selected by coach Marty Schottenheimer to start the team's playoff game against the Denver Broncos, a game which the Chiefs would lose 14–10.[9][10] Chiefs fans were deeply divided over whether Gannon or Grbac should lead the team. Eventually Grbac was preferred and was chosen to remain the Chiefs starting quarterback, Gannon was let go and signed with the Raiders in 1999.[9][12]

1998 season

The 1998 Kansas City Chiefs season began with high hopes of the team avenging its loss in the 1998 playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, but instead the Chiefs failed to succeed in the highly competitive AFC West. Grbac threw 98 pass completions out of a total of 188 attempts, five touchdowns, and gained 1142 yards in this season.

1999 season

Grbac played a very good season in 1999 and led the Chiefs to a 2nd place in the AFC West with a 9–7 record, recording 16 games played (in which all as a starter QB), 22 touchdowns, a 86-yards longest completed pass thrown, and a total of 3389 yards gained.

However in the final game of the season against the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs were denied a trip to the playoffs and an AFC West division title when Raiders kicker Joe Nedney kicked a field-goal in overtime. Coincidentally, Nedney, with the San Francisco 49ers, kicked a field goal in overtime against the Denver Broncos in 2006 and the Chiefs gained the wild-card ticket to the playoffs.

2000 season

Grbac's best season statistically came in 2000 when he passed for 4,169 yards and 28 touchdowns with a passer rating of 89.9 en route to the 2001 Pro Bowl.

Baltimore Ravens

2001 season

After winning Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens bent over backwards to maintain their star defense, and figured that with a better offense and quarterback, they would have a great chance at a repeat. So General Manager Ozzie Newsome replaced quarterback Trent Dilfer with Elvis Grbac.

It was a bold move to supplant the player that went to Disney World, but Grbac was coming off a Pro Bowl year with the Kansas City Chiefs, a year in which he threw for 4,169 and 28 touchdowns. Dilfer’s best season was throwing for 2,729 yards and 21 touchdowns.[13] Grbac agreed to a five-year $30 million contract (in which $11 MM guaranteed).[14]

The Baltimore Ravens were defending Super Bowl champions when Grbac replaced quarterback Trent Dilfer at the start of the 2001 season. Upon signing, Grbac mocked Dilfer in the press: "It's time that a quarterback comes in here and provides leadership, a go-to guy, a vertical passing game. This is a great team. I can make it better."[15] Grbac posted mediocre passing statistics that year, but still managed to lead the Ravens to an 10-6 regular season record and a playoff win over the Miami Dolphins before losing in the second round to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At the end of the season the Ravens cut him in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract. At the time of his retirement, Grbac had been in negotiations with the Denver Broncos—Denver was interested in signing him as a backup to starting quarterback Brian Griese, but Grbac opted for retirement.

Career statistics

NCAA Collegiate Career Stats
Michigan Wolverines
Season Passing Rushing
Comp Att Yards Pct. TD Int QB Rating Att Yards Avg TD
1989 73 116 824 62.9 8 3 140.2 20 -103 -5.2 0
1990 155 266 1,911 58.3 21 10 137.2 22 17 0.8 0
1991 165 254 2,085 65.0 25 6 161.7 23 -103 -4.5 0
1992 129 199 1,640 64.8 17 12 150.2 15 -50 -3.3 1
NCAA Career Totals 522 835 6,460 62.5 71 31 148.1 80 -239 -3.0 1
NFL Career Passing Statistics
Year GP Att Com Pct Yds TD Int Long QB Rating
San Francisco 49ers
1994 12 50 35 70.0 393 2 1 42 98.2
1995 16 183 127 69.4 1,469 8 5 81T 96.6
1996 15 197 122 61.9 1,236 8 10 40 72.2
Kansas City Chiefs
1997 10 314 179 57.0 1,943 11 6 55T 79.1
1998 8 188 98 52.1 1,142 5 12 65 53.1
1999 16 499 294 58.9 3,389 22 15 86T 81.7
2000 15 547 326 59.6 4,169 28 14 81T 89.9
Baltimore Ravens
2001 14 467 265 56.7 3,033 15 18 77T 71.1
NFL Career Totals 106 2,445 1,446 59.1 16,774 99 81 86T 79.6
Super Bowl Statistics
Super Bowls Att Comp Pct Yards TDs INTs Rate Result
XXIX 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 W 49-26
Totals 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 W/L Record 1-0

Key to Abbreviations
GP = Games Played
Att = Passes attempted
Com = Passes Completed
Pct = Completion percentage
Yds = Yards
TD =Touchdowns
Int = Interceptions
Long = Longest Pass Play of season
QB Rating = Passer rating
W/L Record = Super Bowl/Postseason Won/Loss Record

People's Sexiest Athlete

Grbac was featured as People's Sexiest Athlete in 1998. Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman claims this was because of a mistake by a photographer, told to photograph "the Chiefs quarterback," who accidentally photographed Grbac instead of the intended Rich Gannon.[16]

Personal life

Grbac has a brother, Engelbert, and two sisters, Maria and Barbara. He lives in Chagrin Falls, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Lori (née Immarino) and his three children.[2]

On Monday 3 November 1997, during the 1997 season in Week Ten against the Pittsburgh Steelers, two Pittsburgh tacklers slammed Grbac to the Arrowhead Stadium turf and broke his collarbone. Ironically, Monday was officially designated Elvis Grbac Night in Kansas City, Kan., the home of a large Croatian community. Before the game, the Grbac clan entertained Chiefs president Carl Peterson and owner Lamar Hunt with a tailgate party in the parking lot, with ethnic fare- ``Um, what is this?" asked Hunt.

``It's easier to drink than to spell," someone told him.[17]

Grbac now resides in Somers Point, New Jersey.

See also


  1. ^ Associated Press (1997-11-04). show=all "Elvis' Injury Shocks Grbac Family". Associated Press. Archived from show=all the original on 2013-12-29. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  2. ^ a b c Steve Kornacki (2013). Elvis Grbac: The American Dreamshow=all . Triumph Books LLC. Archived from show=all the original on 2013-12-29. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  3. ^ Moris, Peter (1998). "Elvis Grbac: Under Croatian Control". Archived from the original on 2013-12-29. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "Big Ten Conference Football Full Media Guide".  
  6. ^ "2009 Division I Football Records Book: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Records".  
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "History - 1990s".  
  9. ^ a b c d Cite error: The named reference was invoked but never defined
  10. ^ a b Bell, Jarrett (2003-01-23). "Gannon, Johnson take long climbs to Super Bowl summitt". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  11. ^ a b "Huard lifts Chiefs into playoff hunt".  
  12. ^ Rand, Jonathan (2008-07-24). "Relearning a rivalry". Kansas City Chiefs official website. Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  13. ^ Ryan Mink (2013-03-28). "The Caw: Another Super Bowl, Another Elvis".  
  14. ^ "Grbac agrees to five-year contract with Ravens".  
  15. ^ Grbac Tooting His Own Horn Again
  16. ^ """The Sad, Hilarious Tale Of Elvis Grbac, 1998's "Sexiest Athlete Alive.  
  17. ^
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