PASSINGS: Sandy Grossman

Sandy Grossman, 78, a television sports director who oversaw broadcasts of a record 10 Super Bowls and introduced several innovations to TV sports coverage, died Wednesday of cancer at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., according to his son Dean.

Grossman won eight Emmys for his work in a career that spanned more than four decades. From early on, he sought to not just cover the action, but also humanize sports matches by concentrating on individuals. "A good football broadcast should be like a good novel," Grossman said in a 1980 Los Angeles Times interview. "There should be a beginning, a middle and an ending, and it should tell the whole story — developing all the principal characters."

Two of those characters were often in the broadcast booth: the popular on-air team of Pat Summerall and John Madden. Grossman made it a point of preparing alongside former coach Madden, watching practices and films so that he could prepare clips that the announcer might refer to during a game.

"He could just make magic," Madden told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I'll see some old games he did, and they still hold up."

Grossman was born in 1935 in Newark, N.J., and attended the University of Alabama, where he did some play-by-play radio announcing. But he didn't like his own voice and instead pushed to work behind the scenes. He took several jobs in theater and broadcasting before getting his first chance to direct an NFL game in 1968, according to a 2011 profile in the Palm Beach Post.

He eventually came up with practices that are now standard, such as miking basketball coaches and playing music going into the breaks. And he didn't shy away from covering events far from the pro big time, including tractor pulls and cheerleading contests. "Somebody out there is an aficionado of the sport," he told the Post in 2011. "I always made a point to treat every event I did like it was the Super Bowl because, for them, it is."

Times staff and wire reports

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