Elvis Grbac
refer to caption
Grbac with the Chiefs in 1997
No. 18, 11, 15
Personal information
Born: (1970-08-13) August 13, 1970 (age 53)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio)
College:Michigan (1988–1992)
NFL draft:1993 / Round: 8 / Pick: 219
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:16,774
Passer rating:79.6
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Elvis M. Grbac (born August 13, 1970) is an American former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons, most notably with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played college football for the Michigan Wolverines, winning the Sammy Baugh Trophy. Grbac was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft. He spent his first four seasons as a backup with the 49ers before playing his next four seasons as the Chiefs' starter.

On the Chiefs, Grbac would help lead the team to two playoff berths and one division title, along with earning Pro Bowl honors in 2000. However, his tenure would also be known for a quarterback controversy with Rich Gannon during the 1997 season. The Chiefs' decision to start Grbac over Gannon drew retrospective criticism due to Gannon having greater success on the rival Oakland Raiders. Grbac played his final season for the Baltimore Ravens. After retiring, he became athletic director at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, the high school he attended as a student.

Early life

Grbac was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Ivan and Cecilija Grbac[1] His father was born in Lanišće, near Buzet, Istria, Croatia (at the time part of Yugoslavia), and his mother was also from Istria.[2] His parents left Croatia in 1967. Grbac has one brother, Engelbert, and two sisters, Maria and Barbara.

Grbac attended St. Joseph High School, where he played basketball and football. One of his high-school teammates was future Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.

College career

Although Grbac initially wished to continue his football career at Ohio State, he changed his mind when the Buckeyes fired head coach Earle Bruce and opted instead to join Howard at the University of Michigan, where he played college football from 1989 to 1992. He led the Wolverines to a Gator Bowl in 1991, three Rose Bowls in 1990, 1992 and 1993 and is best remembered for playing with wide receiver Desmond Howard during Howard's Heisman-winning season in 1991. In 1991 Grbac's pass to Howard sealed a 24–14 victory over Notre Dame.[3] In the game Grbac completed 20-of-22 passes, a record for a Notre Dame opponent. He 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 records were later broken by John Navarre in 2003 and surpassed by Chad Henne in 2006–2007. In 1992, he won the Sammy Baugh Trophy.[4]

Grbac 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 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) passing efficiency champion during his last two seasons.[6] He was a three-time Big Ten champion in this statistic.


Michigan Wolverines
Season Team Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Yds Pct TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
1989 Michigan 73 116 824 62.9 8 3 140.2 20 -103 -5.2 0
1990 Michigan 155 266 1,911 58.3 21 10 137.2 22 17 0.8 0
1991 Michigan 165 254 2,085 65.0 25 6 161.7 23 -103 -4.5 0
1992 Michigan 129 199 1,640 64.8 17 12 150.2 15 -50 -3.3 1
Career 522 835 6,460 62.5 71 31 148.1 80 -239 -3.0 1

NFL career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Vertical jump Wonderlic
6 ft 5+18 in
(1.96 m)
232 lb
(105 kg)
33+14 in
(0.84 m)
9+18 in
(0.23 m)
4.81 s 1.69 s 2.75 s 4.50 s 31.5 in
(0.80 m)
All values from NFL Combine[8]

NFL Draft

Grbac was drafted in the eighth round (219th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he served as Steve Young's backup from 1994 to 1996.[9]

San Francisco 49ers

Grbac had an injury and was taken in and out of the lineup by coach George Seifert, Grbac played in 11 games in his rookie season only throwing for two touchdown passes in games against the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; he threw one interception. During his rookie season he posted a QB rating of 98.2, with two touchdowns, and completing 35-of-55 pass attempts. He appeared in a total of sixteen games with the 49ers, five of them as the starting quarterback. In Week 11, he led the 49ers to an upset victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, 38–20, throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third.[10] Grbac ended the season with a QB rating of 96.6, 183 passes attempted and 127 completed, eight passing touchdowns and two rushing, for a total of 1,469 yards gained. During the 1996 season, he played a total of 15 regular season games, four as a starter, passing for 10 touchdowns and rushing for two, with a total of 122 passes completed and 1,236 yards gained. In 1997, he signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs becoming their quarterback.

Kansas City Chiefs

Grbac replaced Steve Bono as the Chiefs starter in 1997. He orchestrated a Monday Night Football comeback in Week Two against the Oakland Raiders. Despite trailing by two touchdowns late in the second half, he rallied the Chiefs 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.[11]

In the 1997 season, Grbac led the Chiefs to their fourth AFC West Division championship, as the team finished the year with six consecutive victories, a first in team history, but with Rich Gannon at QB. [12] The 1997 season was also the beginning of a quarterback controversy, when Grbac started the first nine games and suffered an injury, leading to Rich Gannon's substitution for the next six games. Grbac would return in the team's season finale. Gannon won five consecutive starts down the stretch to help the Chiefs earn home-field advantage with a 13–3 record.[13] Grbac was a talented thrower,[14] while Gannon was an aggressive leader who demanded the most of his players.[14] Grbac was selected by coach Marty Schottenheimer to start the team's playoff game against the Denver Broncos, which the Chiefs would lose 14–10 amid an ineffective performance from Grbac.[15][13] Chiefs fans were divided over whether Gannon or Grbac should lead the team. Eventually, Grbac was selected to remain the Chiefs starting quarterback; Gannon was released and signed with the Raiders in 1999.[16] In 1998, the Chiefs struggled in the highly competitive AFC West. Grbac completed only 98-of-188 attempts, for five touchdowns, and gained 1,142 yards in this season. For 1999, the Chiefs won 2nd place in the AFC West. Grbac had a 9–7 record, starting all 16 games. 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 game-winning field-goal in overtime. In 2000, Grbac passed for 4,169 yards and 28 touchdowns with a passer rating of 89.9 en route to the 2001 Pro Bowl.

Grbac finished his four seasons in Kansas City by throwing for 10,643 yards, having 66 touchdowns to 47 interceptions, and a record of 26–21. Despite some success, Grbac became unpopular among Chiefs fans because the team's decision to start him over Gannon.[17][18] Whereas Grbac went winless in the postseason, Gannon led the division rival Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII during the 2002 season and earned MVP honors.

On the June 13, 2023, edition of The Program with Soren Petro radio show, former Chiefs offensive lineman Tim Grunhard revealed that Grbac threw a Christmas party for his teammates in 2000 that was only attended by approximately 10 players, which upset Grbac. Grunhard said he addressed the team about the lack of support the next week and surmised the party was not well attended because a significant portion of the Chiefs' roster did not particularly like Grbac due to his serious personality and lack of bonding with colleagues.[19]

Baltimore Ravens

Grbac signed a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 to replace former starter Trent Dilfer. The contract was for over five years and was worth $30 million.[20] While Dilfer had been the starting quarterback of the Baltimore team that won Super Bowl XXXV, he was seen as a game manager who benefited from a dominant defense and the Ravens believed they could improve at quarterback.

Although the Ravens recorded a 10–6 regular season record and qualified for the playoffs, Grbac's performance was considered a disappointment. He performed statistically below Dilfer's performance in the previous season and two of the Ravens' wins occurred when Randall Cunningham started as a quarterback. During the postseason, the Ravens were defeated 27–10 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round; Grbac threw three interceptions and no touchdowns.

At the end of the season, the Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract.[21] At the time of his retirement, Grbac had been in negotiations with the Denver Broncos as a backup to Brian Griese, but Grbac opted for retirement. Baltimore's free agent signing of Grbac is considered among the league's worst due to his inefficient performance and lasting only one season with the team.[22][23]

NFL career statistics

Year Team Games Passing
GP GS Record Att Cmp Pct Yds TD Int Lng Rtg
1994 SF 11 0 50 35 70.0 393 2 1 42 98.2
1995 SF 16 5 3–2 183 127 69.4 1,469 8 5 81 96.6
1996 SF 15 4 3–1 197 122 61.9 1,236 8 10 40 72.2
1997 KC 10 10 8–2 314 179 57.0 1,943 11 6 55T 79.1
1998 KC 8 6 2–4 188 98 52.1 1,142 5 12 65 53.1
1999 KC 16 16 9–7 499 294 58.9 3,389 22 15 86 81.7
2000 KC 15 15 7–8 547 326 59.6 4,169 28 14 81 89.9
2001 BAL 14 14 8–6 467 265 56.7 3,033 15 18 77 71.1
Career 106 70 40–30 2,445 1,446 59.1 16,774 99 81 86T 79.6

People's Sexiest Athlete

Grbac was featured as People's Sexiest Athlete in 1998. Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman said this was a mistake by a photographer who, under instructions to profile "the Chiefs quarterback", accidentally took pictures of Grbac instead of the intended Rich Gannon.[24] The story was later confirmed by a People employee.[25]

Coaching career

Grbac lives in Chagrin Falls and was an assistant quarterbacks coach for St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. On April 10, 2019, Grbac was named the athletic director and head football coach at his alma mater Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. In addition to his roles in the athletic department, he will also be the head of the Marianist Urban Student Program (MUSP) at the school.[26][27]

Personal life

Grbac has a brother, Engelbert, and two sisters, Maria and Barbara. He lives in Chagrin Falls, just outside Cleveland, with his wife Lori (née Immarino) and his three children: Ella, Jack, and Calvin.[2] Grbac reverted to Catholicism when he was going through his "dark times".[28]

See also


  1. ^ "Elvis' Injury Shocks Grbac Family". Associated Press. November 4, 1997. Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Steve Kornacki (2013). Elvis Grbac: The American Dream. Triumph Books LLC. ISBN 9781623683214. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Elvis Grbac". Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. November 19, 2009. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Elvis Grbac". Sports Reference: College Football Stats and History. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  5. ^ "Big Ten Conference Football Full Media Guide". CBS Interactive/Big Ten Conference. January 5, 2010. p. 39. Archived from the original on July 3, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "2009 Division I Football Records Book: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 43. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Huge List of NFL Wonderlic Scores by Position". wonderlictestpractice.com. March 14, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  8. ^ "Elvis Grbac, Combine Results, QB - Michigan". nflcombineresults.com. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  9. ^ "1993 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 31, 2023.
  10. ^ "San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys – November 12th, 1995". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  11. ^ Moris, Peter (October 13, 1998). "Elvis Grbac: Under Croatian Control". Kansas City Chiefs. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  12. ^ "History - 1990s". Kansas City Chiefs. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Bell, Jarrett (January 23, 2003). "Gannon, Johnson take long climbs to Super Bowl summit". USA Today. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  14. ^ a b Clayton, John (November 5, 2006). "Huard lifts Chiefs into playoff hunt". ESPN. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  15. ^ "Kansas City Chiefs History – 1990s". Chiefs.com. NFL Enterprises, LLC. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2008.
  16. ^ Rand, Jonathan (July 24, 2008). "Relearning a rivalry". Kansas City Chiefs official website. Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  17. ^ Leigh Oleszczak (May 14, 2017). "Kansas City Sports: Most Despised Athletes to Kansas City Fans". FanSided. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  18. ^ Bill Robbins. "Kansas City Chiefs: 7 Most Despised Players in Team History". Bleacher Report. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Soren Petro (June 13, 2023). "The Program" (Podcast). WHB. Event occurs at 11:22–14:44. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  20. ^ Maske, Mark (March 7, 2001). "Ravens Sign Grbac to 5-Year Deal". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  21. ^ Pasquarelli, Len; Clayton, John (March 1, 2002). "Grbac's release latest move in dismantling Ravens". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Randy Gurzi (February 12, 2019). "NFL Free Agency: 30 worst free agency signings this century". FanSided. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  23. ^ Greg Patuto (June 3, 2020). "The Baltimore Ravens 5 worst free-agent signings of all time, ranked". ClutchPoints. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  24. ^ Daulerio, A.J. (June 25, 2009). "The Sad, Hilarious Tale Of Elvis Grbac, 1998's "Sexiest Athlete Alive"". Deadspin. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  25. ^ Jenks, Jayson (January 23, 2020). "How was Elvis Grbac named People's Sexiest Athlete Alive?". The Athletic. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  26. ^ "Eddie Dwyer's Corer". Ignatius.edu. June 23, 2011. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  27. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (June 21, 2015). "Grbac sees more focus, intensity at UM practices". DetroitNews.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  28. ^ "Elvis Grbac – Catholic Revert". The Coming Home Network. May 14, 2019.