NEW YORK — Sandy Grossman, who directed a record 10 Super Bowl broadcasts and spent more than two decades in the TV truck working with announcers Pat Summerall and John Madden, has died. He was 78.
Mr. Grossman died Wednesday at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., of cancer, his son Dean said.
“He could just make magic,” Madden told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday.
When Madden, the former coach, watched film and practices to prepare for calling games, Mr. Grossman was right beside him. That homework paid off when the analyst would make a point on air and the director would immediately pull up the right clip to illustrate it.
“His amazing directorial talents on the NFL truly distinguished him as one of the great directors in the history of sports television,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said.
Mr. Grossman also directed 18 NBA Finals and five Stanley Cup Finals. He won eight Emmys.
“He was a brilliant director and a thoughtful colleague,” Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said. “He mentored many of us here and throughout the sports TV industry, and we learned more from him than he could imagine.”
His innovations included using music to go into the break during basketball games. After Mr. Grossman played “The Hustle” by Van McCoy, his son recalled, sales of the song skyrocketed, so the musician sent him gold records as a thank you.
Visitors to his TV truck over the years included Richard Nixon and Oliver Stone, Dean Grossman said.
“If there wasn’t an envelope to push, Sandy would create one,” said former Fox Sports Chairman David Hill, a senior executive vice president for News Corp.
As Madden put it, “He had guts.”
With producer Bob Stenner, Mr. Grossman guided the celebrated partnership of Summerall and Madden, first at CBS then after their move to Fox. The understated style of Summerall, who died last April, paired with Madden’s booming enthusiasm became the soundtrack of the NFL’s expanding popularity.
“They created a behind-the-curtain team which equaled the legendary front-of-house team of Pat Summerall and John Madden,” Hill said. “Watch any NFL game, and you will see Sandy Grossman’s legacy. He was a legend.”
He embraced watching game film as a director before that was standard practice. Madden recalled how Mr. Grossman began isolating a camera on linemen so the analyst could delve into the nuances of the game.
All that preparation made Mr. Grossman like a successful defensive coordinator who’s ready to handle anything the offense brings, Madden said. In his case, that meant sharp, seamless broadcasts.
“I’ll see some old games he did, and they still hold up,” Madden said.
Mr. Grossman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Faithe, four children and eight grandchildren.