William "Bill" Frederick Groman
William "Bill" Frederick Groman, 83, passed away from natural causes at 9:48 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at his Houston home, surrounded by family.
He was an honest man who could be a perfectionist, even strict. But he could also be silly, and loved mimicking James Brown's moves on the dance floor. In his later years Bill enjoyed rocking out to one of his "Midnight Special" DVDs and watching sports on TV, when he was not singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo Dah" to his grandchildren or chasing them around the house in a game of "Tickle Bug."
His home was filled with photos of his beloved three children, six grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He often said he knew he'd lived a blessed life. He was a quality individual and friend to many.
He was born July 17, 1936, on the kitchen table, in Tiffin, Ohio, where his life revolved around family, church and sports. He was a small-town boy with great athletic talent. Bill graduated from Columbian High School in Tiffin and earned his bachelor's degree in 1958 from Heidelberg University, where he lettered in track, basketball and football and earned All-American honors in football.
Bill played professionally in the American Football League and was an original Houston Oiler, from 1960 to 1962. As a rookie, he made 72 catches for 1,473 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games, rather than the current 16 per season, a record that stands today. The shoes he wore that season are bronzed and in the National Football League Hall of Fame.
He is considered one of the Best Rookie Wide Receivers in NFL History and the only player to catch 27 touchdown passes in his first 25 games. In his second season, he had a total of 17 touchdown receptions, which tied the NFL record.
He led the league in yards per catch in both 1961 and 1962 (20.5 and 23.5) and was All-AFL both years. He had touchdown receptions in eight consecutive games in 1961, one shy of the record. He still holds the record for most touchdown receptions (29) in his first two years. He averaged over 21 yards per reception for his entire career, which is still an NFL record.
He played for the Denver Broncos in 1963, then was traded to the Buffalo Bills for their AFL Championship years of 1964 and 1965. In his six years in the league, Bill played in five AFL Championship Games. He is the only player in professional football history to earn four American Football League Championship rings.
After his professional football career, he transitioned into scouting, where he helped hundreds of young athletes fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL. Over the next 30 years, he scouted for BLESTO (Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers, Football Talent Scouting Organization), Cincinnati, Houston Oilers -- during the "Love you Blue" era -- Tampa Bay, Houston Gamblers of the USFL, as their Director of Player Personnel, San Diego, and spent the last 18 years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons.
Bill was preceded in death by: parents Charles and Winifred Groman, his brother Harry Groman, his first wife, Susan Groman, and his second wife, the love of his life, Theresa (Ellie) Groman.
He is survived by: his sister Judy Yocom, brother-in-law Harvey Yocom, sister-in-law Judy Groman, children, David Groman and his wife, Kathryn Groman, Gigi Rhodes, Gina Cooley and her husband T.J. Cooley. His grandchildren are Marissa Thrash, Emily Rhodes, Carly Rhodes, Colton Cooley, Caden Cooley and Channing Cooley, and one great-grandchild, Briella Buckley.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, he'll be buried in a private ceremony in Houston on Thursday, June 25. The service can be viewed virtually at 11am (CST) on Facebook at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like for gifts to be made in Bill's memory to
Heidelberg University Athletics in Tiffin, Ohio. Those contributions can be made on line by visiting www.heidelberg.edu/give
or mailed by check to Heidelberg University, 310 East Market Street, Tiffin, Ohio 44883.