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Al Gross Holding His Ground in Tough Cleveland Secondary

August 11, 1985|Associated Press

KIRTLAND, Ohio — Cleveland Browns safety Al Gross wants interceptions not only to help his team win football games, but also to help feed starving people in Africa.

"We're going to donate money to an African aid program through the Red Cross," Gross said this week after a Browns practice. "For every interception any of the four starters in our secondary gets, we're going to donate.

"I want to get 10 or 11 interceptions this year. Last year I had five but I dropped three or four. So this year when we drop an interception we not only lose that, but we lose an opportunity to help feed some people, and we want to help."

Gross has accomplished whatever he has set out to do thus far in his two National Football League seasons.

A ninth-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 1983, Gross was released early in training camp at his own request and signed by the Browns two days later.

The former University of Arizona star met his first objective by making the Browns. Gross then established himself as a fierce hitter on Cleveland's special teams, and showed a capability to play both strong and free safety.

Last season Gross beat out veteran starter Clinton Burrell and second-round draft choice Chris Rockins for the starting job at strong safety.

Gross became an integral part of the "Dawgs," a label hung on the hard-hitting Cleveland secondary after they developed the habit of barking at their opponents. That defensive backfield, which includes Don Rogers and cornerbacks Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon, helped the Browns defense finish second statistically in the NFL.

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