Elvis Grbac

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Elvis Grbac
No. 18, 11, 15
Personal information
Born: (1970-08-13) August 13, 1970 (age 49)
Cleveland, Ohio
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Joseph (Cleveland, OH)
NFL Draft:1993 / Round: 8 / Pick: 219
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:16,774
QB Rating:79.6
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Elvis M. Grbac (born August 13, 1970) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) and currently serves as the head football coach, Marianist Urban Student Program director, and athletic director at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland.[2] During his career he was a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Baltimore Ravens. In college, at the University of Michigan, he was the 1992 NCAA Division I passing efficiency leader, and a three time efficiency leader in the Big Ten Conference,[3] the 1992 Sammy Baugh Trophy winner,[3] and the quarterback for 1991 Heisman Trophy award winner Desmond Howard. Drafted by the 49ers in 1993, and serving in his rookie year as the backup to Steve Young, he went on to play seven more seasons, starting 70 of the 106 games he played for San Francisco (1993–96), Kansas City (1997–2000) and Baltimore (2001).

During his career, Grbac was on one Super Bowl-winning team with the 49ers over the San Diego Chargers, and won one AFC West title in 1997 while quarterbacking the Chiefs. He still holds six all-time records with the Chiefs, including most consecutive games with a passing touchdown (15) and most yards gained in a single game (504).

Early life[edit]

Grbac was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ivan and Cecilija Grbac[4] His father was born in Lanišće, near Buzet, Istra, Croatia, and his mother was also from Istra.[5] His parents left Croatia in 1967 with their two eldest children, Maria and Engelbert (Elvis's eldest sister and brother).

Grbac attended St. Joseph High School. While there he played basketball as well as football; one of his high-school teammates was future Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.

College career[edit]

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 and 1993 and 1992 and is best remembered for throwing to wide receiver Desmond Howard during the latter's Heisman-winning season in 1991. In 1991 Grbac's pass to Howard sealed a 24–14 victory over Notre Dame.[6] In that 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 marks were later broken by John Navarre in 2003 and surpassed by Chad Henne in 2006–2007.

Grbac also established the Big Ten Conference career passing efficiency record that would stand for six seasons until it was surpassed by Joe Germaine.[7] Grbac was a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) passing efficiency champion during his last two seasons.[8] He was a three-time Big Ten champion in this statistic.


Season Passing Rushing
Year Team Comp Att Yards % TD Int QB Rating Att Yards Avg TD
1989 MICH 73 116 824 62.9 8 3 140.2 20 -103 -5.2 0
1990 MICH 155 266 1,911 58.3 21 10 137.2 22 17 0.8 0
1991 MICH 165 254 2,085 65.0 25 6 161.7 23 -103 -4.5 0
1992 MICH 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[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

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.

San Francisco 49ers[edit]

1994 season[edit]

Dealing with an injury and being taken in and out of the lineup by then-head coach George Seifert, Grbac played in 11 games in his rookie season, recording two touchdown passes, against the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while throwing one interception.

During his rookie season, Grbac posted a QB rating of 98.2, with two touchdowns, and completing 35-of-55 pass attempts.

1995 season[edit]

Grbac 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.[9] 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.

1996 season[edit]

During the 1996 season, Grbac 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, Grbac signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to be their starting quarterback.

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

1997 season[edit]

Grbac in huddle with the Chiefs in 1997.

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] Grbac was an excellent quarterback, and a talented thrower,[13] while Gannon was an aggressive leader who demanded the most of his players.[13] 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.[12] Chiefs fans were divided over whether Gannon or Grbac should lead the team. Eventually Grbac was chosen to remain the Chiefs starting quarterback, Gannon was let go and signed with the Raiders in 1999.[14]

1998 season[edit]

The 1998 season began with high hopes of the team avenging its loss in the 1997–98 playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, but instead 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.

1999 season[edit]

In 1999, Grbac managed to lead the Chiefs to 2nd place in the AFC West with a 9–7 record, starting all 16 games, For the season, Grbac threw for 22 touchdowns and 3,389 yards.

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 game-winning field-goal in overtime.

2000 season[edit]

His 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[edit]

Grbac signed a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens to replace former starter Trent Dilfer. The contract was for over five years and was worth $30 million.[15] While Dilfer had been the starting quarterback of Baltimore's Super Bowl winning team, he was seen as nothing more than a "game manager", and the Ravens wished to upgrade at the quarterback position.

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 at quarterback. In the postseason, Grbac helped the team win the wild card round against the Miami Dolphins, but was defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. He threw three interceptions, and the Ravens failed to score an offensive touchdown during the game.

At the end of the season, the Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract.[16] 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[edit]

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

People's Sexiest Athlete[edit]

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.[1] The story was later confirmed by a People employee.[17]

Coaching career[edit]

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. [18][19]

Personal life[edit]

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.[5] Grbac reverted to Catholicism when he was going through his "dark times".[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Daulerio, A.J. (June 25, 2009). "The Sad, Hilarious Tale Of Elvis Grbac, 1998's "Sexiest Athlete Alive"". Deadspin. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  2. ^ https://vasj.com/news/elvis-grbac-88-returns-to-vasj
  3. ^ a b "Elvis Grbac". Sports Reference: College Football Stats and History. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Elvis' Injury Shocks Grbac Family". Associated Press. November 4, 1997. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Steve Kornacki (2013). Elvis Grbac: The American Dream. Triumph Books LLC. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  6. ^ "Elvis Grbac". Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "2009 Division I Football Records Book: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 43. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  9. ^ "San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys – November 12th, 1995". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "History - 1990s". Kansas City Chiefs. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Bell, Jarrett (January 23, 2003). "Gannon, Johnson take long climbs to Super Bowl summit". USA Today. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  13. ^ a b Clayton, John (November 5, 2006). "Huard lifts Chiefs into playoff hunt". ESPN. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Maske, Mark (March 7, 2001). "Ravens Sign Grbac to 5-Year Deal". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Pasquarelli, Len; Clayton, John (March 1, 2002). "Grbac's release latest move in dismantling Ravens". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  17. ^ Jenks, Jayson (January 23, 2020). "How was Elvis Grbac named People's Sexiest Athlete Alive?". The Athletic. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  18. ^ "Eddie Dwyer's Corer". Ignatius.edu. June 23, 2011. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  19. ^ Chengelis, Angelique S. (June 21, 2015). "Grbac sees more focus, intensity at UM practices". DetroitNews.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  20. ^ "Elvis Grbac – Catholic Revert". The Coming Home Network. May 14, 2019.