Despite Athletic Setbacks,
Made the Most of His Days as a Pirate
turn to in the 1988 Media Guide to Chad Grier’s quarter-page, you will
read something like: “…smart player only limited by size and speed…”
that?” Grier laughed from a hotel room in Ohio. “That’s a true statement
from the media guide. It’s just size and speed… that’s all that kept me
from going to the pros. I mean, if Jeff (Blake) was worth $26 million to
the Saints, I think I would be worth $5 million to the Panthers and I’d
do it for two (million).”
Pirate Media Guide)
road, preparing to close another deal with corporate executives, Grier
is today the savvy Chief Executive Officer for
META Security Group, a
North Carolina-based company that ensures corporate intellectual
property remains proprietary by delivering Internet/intranet security
most guys his age are eyeing the corner office, dreaming of their shot
someday As a at calling the shots, Grier is already there, running a
the phone, from Ohio, Grier was taken back to his days at ECU, and how
his decision to be a Pirate led to the chance encounter that put the
former quarterback on his current track.
many choices seem innocuous at the time they are made, there are those
that in hindsight made all the difference.
Grier’s decision in 1988 that, at least for some time, the former
quarterback regretted. But as time wore on, Grier realized the
choice he made then, though effectively ending his football career, was
the decision of a lifetime.
Grier (on far left) getting ready
for a big play against FSU
Grier had just wrapped up a strong season as the starting quarterback at
Division I-AA Richmond. He had led the Spiders to a No. 13
ranking and was poised to finish out his career as a three-year starter.
But, Grier, who lives for the challenge, was not fulfilled in the
role… he wanted to see how good he was.
played as a freshman and started as a sophomore (at Richmond),” he said.
“We won the conference, and were 13th in the country. It’s a
great school, but I wanted to go to a big school. Everyone in Richmond
thought I was from Mayberry or something. I tried to convince them that
Charlotte is a real city, but…. Really, it was a great experience for
me; I just wanted to play (big-time) football.
reached back a little to some high school connections.
coach (Art) Baker at the Gus Percells quarterback camp when I was in
high school,” the former Charlotte Latin star said. “But (ECU) seemed
unlikely with Baker, because I was a passer.
talking (back and forth) with Mack Brown and I almost transferred to
UNC, but there was some confusion over scholarship availability.”
seemingly out of the picture, became a true possibility for Grier when
Baker introduced him to the Pirate offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride.
“(Gilbride) got me really excited about the offense,” Grier said. “He
wanted to run the run and shoot and, honestly, it was the most fun I
ever had playing football.”
Grier gave us permission to run this
photo, only on the
condition that we use the following caption:
"Me Running Over Ken Burnette (54) During Spring Game"
He committed to ECU and
roomed with quarterback Travis Hunter, a player Grier calls the
“greatest option quarterback I’ve ever seen.”
While Grier got acclimated to
the offense and prepared to make a run at the starting role,
the worst thing that can
happen to a transfer — short of a career-ending injury — happened.
that season, Baker and the entire staff was fired and I had to start
over with Coach (Bill) Lewis,” he said.
with the coaching change, Grier finished the spring listed as co-starter
with Hunter. But, after his grandfather died and he took some time off,
Grier slipped down the depth chart behind Hunter.
did get on the field quickly that season when, in the opener, Hunter went
Chad Grier running the ball
first pass was a two-point conversion to
Denell Harper,” he said. “It
was the only one in my career and if I’d have known that, I would have
ran in the end zone and got naked. Of course, I didn’t know. But, Travis
was fun to watch and I love that guy. I played sparingly that season,
but then Jeff (Blake) came in and he was very talented As a obviously As
much better than I, so my role on the team became to keep them
ECU was not the ticket to the NFL that Grier once hoped it would be, it
was where he found his future — in more ways than one.
through all of the ups and downs, Grier’s sense of humor, above all, may
be the very mechanism that has allowed him to find success in the
unlikeliest of places.
if you ask him, his contribution to the ECU football program was more
defined by a mano-a-mano, battle royal, ongoing spy-versus-spy
relationship with former punter Tim Wolters. During their time at ECU,
the two engaged in a battle of pranks that reached legendary status.
Grier (7) and 'nemesis' Tim Wolter
really not that big of a clown,” he said. “But I think the all-time
worst, and there is actually video footage of this, was on Senior Day.
Tim Wolter’s parents were about 12 rows up filming, and Tim, who was on
crutches at the time, grabs me and acted like he was making out with me
on the sideline. And I wonder why I didn’t play more. It makes me wonder
about (Tim) even more.”
today, Grier can’t resist the chance to take a shot at his old nemesis.
thought it was real funny when he worked at a cell phone company and was
preparing for the Guilford County Pirate Club golf tournament, he put a
trivia game in all of the (gift) bags and one of the questions was
something like, ‘Who holds the record for most consecutive quarters
wearing a baseball hat?’ The answer was ‘Chad Grier.’
let that go because I know that Tim is still bitter that he was the
captain of the Junior Varsity team his last year at Chowan.”
are still close friends and the relationship was just one that Grier
fostered at ECU. And for that reason, among others, Grier finds it hard
to regret his decision to transfer to ECU.
like a family (at ECU),” he said. “There was just something about Scott
Hall. It didn’t matter what position you played, whether you were a
starter, whether you were black or white, there was just something about
it. I ran into Orlando Whitaker a few years after we both played and I
heard his voice. We just hugged. It was just like that, like a family.”
was at ECU, where his real family started.
my wife, Elizabeth, there,” he said. “There was a walk-on named Keith
Stevens, we all called him ‘Shed.’ I don’t think he even had a number.
He was from Apex and my wife is from Raleigh and they knew each other.
She is a twin and Shed would go out with her sister. He introduced me to
her and, honestly, it was pretty uneventful.
next time I saw her, she was in a bikini winning a contest and $1,500.
That night, I saw through her external façade and saw the truly
wonderful person she was on the inside and a three-year courtship began.
Really, it was her inner beauty that attracted me to her.
Grier and wife, Elizabeth at
Disneyworld. What a cut-up!
she paid our way through college winning all of those contests. Now, she
doesn’t work… she is paying me back.”
has, more than money ever could.
is to retire early enough to follow my kids around,” he said. “I’m madly
in love with them, I cannot get enough of them, really.”
surprising that his three boys, Will, Nash, and Hayes, are the biggest
things in his life. His father, Benjamin Hayes, took a deep involvement
in his son’s life.
was my hero. If I could be half the dad he was, I would be a success,”
Grier said. “He was the inspiration of all I did athletically. He
coached kids. He passed away of cancer two years ago, and when he died,
so many people came (to the funeral). He had influenced so many people.”
Grier and Elizabeth with their sons,
Will, Nash and Hayes
father’s influence, Grier has become deeply involved in the Fellowship
of Christian Athletes (FCA) because, it was “what he stood for.” And he
is involved in youth sports in general. He and Larry Jordan As a yes,
Michael’s brother As a have forged a close friendship, co-coaching young
kids in basketball.
really about teaching life and Christian character,” Grier said. “Lots
of kids are at risk and many of them are from bad neighborhoods. To help
them is rewarding… and cool, too.”
from his mother Carol, he gets that goofiness that has served him well
throughout his life and athletic career.
was a school teacher for 27 years and she is a nut,” he said. “That is
where the pranks come from, I think. She would walk cockeyed, or with
pigeon toes. Our kids love going to Mimi’s house because she is such a
humor got him through what would have, in most cases, driven a player to pack
it in and not see it through to graduation. With Art Baker’s departure,
so went Grier’s support system, particularly Mark Richt.
Grier getting ready for a pass
Richt was so good to me,” Grier said. “When my granddad died, (Richt)
took me out and we talked a lot about life. He was a great man and he
meant a lot to me. I didn’t even realize until later, that he was just
27 then. But, after he left (to go to) Florida State, Coach (Steve) Logan moved
up to quarterback coach my senior year.”
transition announced the end to Grier’s chances of ever really seeing
just say we were philosophically opposed,” Grier laughed.
“Philosophically, he thought I sucked and I thought I was OK.
coach Logan was a funny guy… really. He used to say that the only way I
could run a 4.5 was to fall off a building.
thing As a he’s a real academic type As a was he had a word of the day and he
would throw out a word (to the team). Well, I was an English major and
most of the time knew what the word meant and would spoil his fun. I
think I was discriminated against for this reason. I think he had a
problem with smart guys.”
was a smart guy and it was that nose for success that created an
unlikely chain of events, landing him, today, in the CEO seat of an
(the team) moved from Scales (Field House) to the new sports medicine
building, the (school) had sold naming rights for the lockers there,” he
recalled. “My locker had Wayne Peterson’s name on it. I knew he was the
chairman of the board of trustees and a big supporter and so I sent him
a note, telling him I was the guy in his locker. He pointed me in the
first opportunity was with Carolina Telephone, working in sales out of
time, I had sold my baseball card collection so that we could eat — and
the next week, I got the job.”
gave way to a job with Sprint which was then purchased by United. The
next nine years brought Grier to the level of division director.
really got lucky, working for some very smart people,” he said.
then gambled by jumping to Blue Star where he was an executive vice
president of sales for the DSL start-up.
“I had a
lot of fun at Blue Star,” he said. “I learned a lot from a great guy in
Bob Dupuis (the CEO). I did that until we went public. Thought I was on
my way to that early retirement, but then the dot com bust happened.
(Dupuis) did a great job of selling the business to Covad and I got to
help lead the integration (effort).”
integrating the two companies, Grier opted to move on, heading to his
current position as the CEO at
META Security Group.
year I call tuition because I couldn’t afford to pay for what I’ve
learned in the last year,” he said. “We have a real market-leading
product. We are a consulting company and have a product.
a decent piece of equity and I’ve seen a lot. Every job I’ve had, I’ve
been fortunate. When I went to Richmond, all I ever wanted to be was an
NFL quarterback. I’ve made tons of mistakes, but God has led me to the
decisions and things tend to work out. He’s given me wonderful
experience at ECU was the people and that made my life there. I follow
(the team) pretty passionately. ECU has the best fans in the world. Even
when I played, we were terrible and the crowd was always there.”
really can’t get much better these days for Grier — and he knows it.
lead the glamorous life, being a CEO, looking out the window of the
greater Detroits and Clevelands of the world.”
out that Ohio window, Grier is once again reminded of his family at ECU.
“Hey… really… I think I see Tim Wolters across the street… he’s pumping
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