Lou Groza, Martins Ferry, OH Historical Society Home Page

By Tom Thomas


Lou and Jackie Groza

     Lou Groza was born in Martins Ferry on January 25, 1925. His parents, John and Mary, were Hungarian immigrants who had settled in the Ohio Valley. Lou had three brothers...John, Frank, and Alex. The Groza home was located on Main Street where the family operated Groza’s Tavern. In his childhood, Lou remembered playing ball at old Mill Field, attending St. Mary’s Catholic Church, swimming in the Ohio River, playing sports in all kinds of weather, shopping in Wheeling, and enjoying Sunday picnics on Reasbeck’s Farm.
     Lou attended Martins Ferry High School, where he was like any other student growing up in a mill town in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school. During his senior year, he served as captain of those three varsity teams. He began to receive attention for his excellent kicking skills, which had been taught to him by his brother Frank. In 1941, Lou and his teammates experienced the ultimate thrill for any high school athlete. The basketball team won the state championship; which was followed by the football team sharing the state championship with a team from Toledo. Lou also excelled in the classroom, being chosen as a member of the National Honor Society. To all of the people of Martins Ferry, he was the BIG CHIEF.
     After high school, Lou enrolled at Ohio State, where he played football for Coach Paul Brown. After his freshman year, he was drafted in to the U. S. Army. For three years Lou served as a surgical technician in a medical battalion, participating in the Philippine and Okinawa campaigns.
     After the war ended, Lou signed with the Cleveland Browns to play in the All American Football Conference. Four years later, the Browns became part of the national Football League. Lou played professional football from 1946 - 1959 and from 1961 - 1967. He played offensive tackle and did the place-kicking for the Browns. It was at this time that Lou received his famous nickname, THE TOE. In 1974, Lou was honored by being selected for the Professional football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio. Today, the award given to the best kicker in the N.F.L. is named the “Lou Groza Award.”
     Lou was married to another native Ferrian, Jackie Lou Robbins. They were married in Martins Ferry on May 13, 1950. The ceremony was performed at St. Mary’s Catholic Church by Fr. Connelly. Lou and Jackie became the parents of four children...Jeff, Jill, Jon, and Judd. They also have eleven grand children. After retirement from football, Lou and Jackie lived in Berea, Ohio where Lou was an insurance agent. Lou died in 2000, remembered as one of Martins Ferry’s most famous natives.