Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman led Bloomington High School South to the Indiana Class 5A state football championship in 1998 in Indianapolis.AP photo
INDIANAPOLIS — This Super Bowl is all about family to Maureen and Dan Grossman.
Their son, Rex, is the Chicago Bears quarterback, but the family has strong ties to football in Indiana going back to the 1940s. They’ve held Colts season tickets for 23 years, and Dan Grossman, like his brother Dobby and their father, also named Rex, played football at Indiana University.
On Super Bowl Sunday, though, their allegiance will be with the Bears.
“We’re excited, nervous and proud,” Maureen Grossman said Thursday. “There’s a lot of love for Rex in Bloomington, and I think everyone is wishing him well.”
Maybe not too well, though.
When Chicago beat the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and the Colts pulled off the greatest comeback in conference championship history later Sunday night, it set up a dream matchup for the Grossmans and their friends.
But to many others in Bloomington, a city of about 70,000 where the Grossmans still live, the game tugs at their deepest loyalties.
Rex Grossman’s high school coach, Mo Moriarity, has a solution.
“I’ll cheer for the team with the ball,” said Moriarity, now the coach at Carmel High School near Indianapolis. “You know I have as much respect for Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning as you can have for anyone, and I sure wouldn’t be upset if they won a Super Bowl. But when you coach somebody, you always root for that person to do well, too.”
Many remember Grossman as the talented quarterback of Bloomington South High School. He led the school to a state runner-up finish in 1997, his junior season, then won a state title and Indiana’s Mr. Football Award in 1998.
Some also remember him for leaving Indiana to play at the University of Florida, and now he’s added another chapter to his storybook career by leading the Bears into a game some have dubbed as the Interstate 65 Super Bowl, even though the highway doesn’t actually go into Chicago.
Even the Bears quarterback has gotten caught in the middle.
“The only thing that stands out is my grandfather played fullback for the Baltimore Colts,” Grossman said. “The Colts were my team growing up.”
The elder Rex Grossman was drafted by the Colts on the 29th round in 1948.
For the younger Rex Grossman’s parents, it’s been an interesting time. They bristled at the criticism their son took during the second half of the season, and celebrated when he got the Bears into their first Super Bowl since the 1985 season.
This week, they’ve fielded dozens of phone calls, nearly as many ticket requests and have spent time scrambling to make travel plans to Miami.
In between, they’re chatting with friends who are trying to pick sides.
“We have a lot of friends who are Colts fans, who have been saying since the start of the season how much fun it would be if the Colts and Bears were in the Super Bowl,” Maureen Grossman said.