Football legend remembers Pottstown gridiron and community stand-out

Rosey Grier, during his time with the Los Angeles Rams in 1965. (AP Photo)
Rosey Grier talks to children from the Jordan Downes housing project in Compton, Calif., Dec. 20, 1994. (AP Photo)

As one of the Los Angeles Rams’ historic “Fearsome Foursome,” Rosey Grier knows defense.

And as a collegiate teammate of Paul Henry “Sam” Green Sr., Grier thinks Green had the fire that makes defensive football players great.

“I think of Sam as being one of the toughest defensive (players) that I’ve seen. And I’ve sene them in the pros,” said Grier. “It was my feeling that Sam would have made it big in the pros.”

Green was a standout linebacker for Pottstown High School in the late 40s and early 50s and went on to play football at Penn State alongside Grier and Lenny Moore.

Earlier this month, Green died at the age of 80 at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the family for the years of service and the time that we had him,” Grier said last week.

Drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Moore’s eventual team, Green eventually left football to join the Army by 1956. Still, according to a Miami Herald article, he kept in touch with Moore, attending a reunion that year with him.

Grier said he felt Green left football too early but also said it was a different time, implying that that may have factored into the decision.

“There was a lot of racism we went through,” Grier said. “Today it is very much changed.”

A member of the Tri-County Sports Hall of Fame, Green’s impact would be beyond pro football. After the army, he went on to serve as a state constable, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy and as a member of the Montgomery County Opportunity Board.

“He went on to become a great officer in your area,” Grier told The Mercury, saying he kept up with Green along with other Penn State teammates through the years.

Green became a father, and is survived by seven sons and one daughter. He was predeceased by three sons.

“My dad...he was special,” said Bobby Watson, one of Green’s sons. “It’s hard to put in words.”

It seemed Green’s influence carried on to his sons, with Mark Gibson serving on borough council and becoming a state constable while Paul Green Jr. became a wrestling stand-out in the 1980s and shares being elected to the Tri-County Sports Hall of Fame with his father.

“It was fun to be around with him,” Watson said. “But you couldn’t cross that line. He was a dad. He kept you in check.”

“A member of Keystone Masonic Lodge No. 113 and Montgomery Lodge No. 1271 of Pottstown, Sam was a leader to make his community a better place,” read his obituary in Feb. 12’s Mercury.

“Life is funny: we don’t last long we just hope we helped affect things for the better while we’re here,” Grier said. “Many of us are very grateful for the time we got to live with (Green). When you have a man like that, it’s a great thing. I appreciated playing with Sam. He was a great guy.”

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.