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Making a Difference: NFL Fan of the Year Tom Grossi uses platform to give back

The lifelong Green Bay Packers fan was selected for the honor from the pool of 32 finalists representing each NFL club

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March 4, 2024

WISCONSIN – Using his platform and his recent new-found fame, Tom Grossi, avid Green Bay Packers fan and NFL Fan of the Year, said he makes it his mission to give back to organizations in need.

Grossi – a New York native and former high school social studies teacher for six years – was selected as the league’s ultimate fan from a pool of 32 finalists – each representing an NFL club.

The cheesehead fanatic received the award at the NFL Honors in Las Vegas – the league’s primetime awards show recognizing the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2023 season – just days before the Super Bowl.

“It’s honestly incredible (to be named the NFL Fan of the Year),” Grossi said. “I’ve been a Green Bay Packers fan since I was six years old. Just getting nominated by fans was amazing – I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t even aware of the NFL Fan of the Year (until last summer). I got the call last November about me being the representative for the Packers.”

The NFL Fan of the Year competition is an annual celebration of fans who inspire others through their love of football and exemplify every aspect of what it truly means to be a fan.

Each of the 32 clubs received thousands of nominees to be the team’s Fan of the Year, with a record-high of more than 61,000 nominations in 2023.

Grossi said he was told he received thousands upon thousands of votes in the application process.

“I don’t do the things I do for awards or recognition, so it’s an immense gratitude for me,” he said. “I want to help people – I’ve been saying that for years. I told myself, ‘If I ever got a platform to help people and give back, I was going to.”

With Green Bay being the smallest market in the NFL, Grossi said a Green Bay Packers fan receiving the award is even more special.

“I’ve known (Packers President/CEO) Mark Murphy since 2016 when he allowed me to interview him for the first time,” he said. “I was a teacher at the time, and here I was interviewing the president of the Packers. Not many people were listening to my podcast (Packast) back then, and I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

Though he stressed Packast has never been about the money, Grossi said in the beginning, “it took me three years to make $200 doing this.

“I did it for free for years,” he said. “I still don’t take sponsors, I’ve never monetized my audience or sold them out for anything. I make the content I want, and thankfully, with the platform I have, the only time I’ve ever asked my audience for money, it’s for charity – that’s the only time I ask for money.”

Grossi said winning the award feels like a community effort.

“Fans from all 32 NFL teams voted for me, but there’s always been this special bond with Packers fans, even (currently) living in New York and being a thousand miles away from Lambeau Field,” he said. “I’ve always felt this connection with Green Bay.”

Grossi said he often thinks about the first time he went to Lambeau.

“The first time I went to Lambeau, there was a K-Mart across the street – there was no Titletown (District) at the time,” he said. “This award seems like a win for the fans as well. I hope it inspires people to help others – this shows what nine years of hard work and doing something you love can result in.”

It all started with…

Grossi said he has not missed watching a Packers game for the past two decades and has shared his passion for the team with hundreds of thousands of people through his YouTube channel.

Since 2015, he has greeted his viewers by welcoming them to “the podcast where you don’t have to be a Packers fan, but it sure does help.”

“The Packers losing to the (Seattle) Seahawks in the (2014) NFC Championship game spawned all of this,” Grossi said. “The Packers have had some tough playoff exit games, but that one takes the cake. The loss inspired me to create a video, which inspired Packast, which was like a fake reaction video.”

Grossi said the video got about 60,000 views on YouTube.

What makes the situation even funnier, Grossi said, was he had bought tickets months before to watch a Broadway play, which turned out to be the same time the Packers were playing the Seahawks.

“I wasn’t too happy about that,” he laughed. “I don’t think I remember anything that happened during that play – I was constantly checking my phone. I got out of the play in the fourth quarter with about seven minutes remaining, went to a Manhattan bar, bought an overpriced beer and watched my team utterly collapse.”

Before long, Grossi said his podcasts began featuring an opposing team’s fan – mostly to create fun banter – but he also allowed guests to promote their social media platforms during the show.

One fan, however, did something Grossi said he never expected.

“One time, when I brought an opposing fan onto my podcast, the fan didn’t have social media,” he said. “Instead, the fan wanted to promote a charity. This charity gave service dogs to disabled veterans. Living on a teacher’s salary in New York, I barely had money – I was losing money on the podcast, but I pulled together $50 to give to this charity. That was the moment where I said, ‘If I ever have a platform to give back, I would do more to give back.’”

Grossi has taken his love for the Packers and the NFL and transformed it into a vehicle he calls “Chaotic Good” – doing acts of kindness, without recognition, in an attempt to make someone’s day better.

“I go to Green Bay every year, and each time, I say, ‘Man, this is my team I’m in love with,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget, and it makes me want to work harder to help more people.”

Grossi puts out videos titled “If the NFL Was Scripted” and “Every Fans Reaction” on his YouTube channel.

One of his most recent videos, “I Went to the Super Bowl,” has a donation link for Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

“This is now my full-time job,” Grossi said. “I left teaching in June 2021 – before that, I was doing both jobs full-time for basically six years. 2020 was the first year I made more money doing this than teaching. I’m in love with this job – it’s just me. I don’t have to put on a character, and I’m watching my favorite team and a sport I love. I’ve worked incredibly hard for this, so it makes it easier to give back.”

Grossi said he’s gotten much better over time in creating his videos, but that doesn’t mean it’s a quick process.

“It depends on the video,” he said. “‘If the NFL Was Scripted,’ those take about five or six hours between writing, filming and editing. Because I’ve been doing this for so long, ‘Every Fans Reaction’ takes about an hour. I’ve learned every fan’s reaction – or have good guesses – about what they’re thinking after a game.”

30 in 30

Since 2021, Grossi has raised more than $725,000, with $512,000 coming from his latest initiative – 30 in 30.

In June 2023, Grossi visited 30 NFL stadiums in 30 days to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Starting at Lambeau Field, Grossi highlighted each team and its fan base, while also supporting small businesses by hosting fan events at local restaurants and venues.

“Before going on this venture, I had saved about $50,000 over the years because I wanted to move to Wisconsin,” he said. “Doing the math, I knew doing 30 in 30 would roughly cost that much, but it was a no-brainer to use the money and help raise money for St. Jude.”

The idea for 30 in 30, Grossi said, came on Valentine’s Day 2023.

“I thought of the idea when I was in the shower,” he laughed. “I’ve put out content five days a week since August 2019 and haven’t missed a day. After the Super Bowl, there’s not as much going on in the NFL until training camp, so it got me thinking: ‘What if I went to all 30 NFL stadiums in June?’”

Grossi said others have gone to every stadium, but not all 30 in 30 days.

“I knew it would be a logistical nightmare, but could I actually do this?” he said. “As soon as I thought about it, it’s all I thought about for four months straight. I called people I knew and got the ball rolling. When I set out for this, only six teams told me I could come into the building.”

Grossi said the majority of his travel for 30 in 30 was through the air, but he also took trains, buses and traveled by car.

Like the other charities he raises money for, Grossi said “St. Jude had no idea I was raising money for them.”

“They only found me because I jumped through a table in Buffalo, and they called me in Baltimore and said, ‘What are you doing? Are you hurting yourself for money?’ he said. “They had no idea who I was.”

Grossi said there were a few reasons he picked St. Jude.

“No. 1, I had known about St. Jude,” he said. “When I pick a charity, I do lots of research like going on Charity Navigator, reading their spending reports, etc. If I’m recommending a charity, people need to feel comfortable giving their money to them. St. Jude is a great organization and does great work – I knew where the money would go.”

With each city, Grossi said he had no idea what the fan reaction would be.

“In Green Bay, I was thinking maybe 12 people would show up, but there were more than 45,” he said. “We had a teacher who was on their lunch break who came to meet me. I signed some stuff, took some pictures and they returned to teach. By the end of it, we were drawing crowds of 400 people on a day’s notice – the fans were so happy. We had people in Kansas City who showed up four hours before to tailgate.”

Grossi said, last June was one of the “best times of my life.”

“There was so much good going on, all to help raise money for sick kids,” he said. “We had Uber drivers giving us money to give to St. Jude. It was the best part of sports being shown during 30 in 30.”

Grossi said Pat McAfee, a former NFL punter and current sports analyst, gave $25,000 to St. Jude, while the Pittsburgh Steelers donated $1,000 directly to the charity.

“Other teams gave me autographed items to auction off to raise money, but the vast majority of that $512,000 was from everyday, normal people,” he said.

Other fundraising efforts

In 2018, Grossi said he ran the New York City Marathon and raised about $1,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

In December 2021, he helped raise $51,000 for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which deals with pediatric cancer.

Also in 2023, Grossi helped raise money for OAR (Organization for Autism Research).

“We helped raise more than $80,000 for them in eight hours,” he said. “We’ve also raised money for Disabled American Veterans (DAV).”

Another interesting example, Grossi said, was when former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in a 2013 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

“Minnesota fans kind of celebrated when that happened,” he said. “I responded by looking up a Minnesota-based charity that gave service dogs to people who are homebound or kids with cancer. We raised $3,000 to name one of the dogs ‘Lambeau.’ That’s how we got ‘back at them.’ That dog went to a Packers fan living in Minnesota, so that was perfect.”

Two years ago, Grossi said he helped raise $62,000 in eight hours for Friends of Animals, a nonprofit international animal advocacy organization established in New York City in 1957.

“I’ve tried to hit every single category we can – of course, there are a million more – but just trying to find the best charity we can in their field and promote them,” he said.

Through the dozens of charities Grossi has helped raise money for, he said several are based in Wisconsin.

“We’ve raised money for the foster home Mark Murphy is associated with in Green Bay a couple of times,” he said. “We also recently raised money for CollegeReady, which helps underprivileged kids in Green Bay to help them pursue college degrees.”

Living in New York but a Packers fan?

Grossi said he became a Packers fan when he was six years old.

“My father was a diehard (Dallas) Cowboys fan,” he said. “He made every attempt to convince me to cheer for Dallas, but one day in first grade, I heard about how the Packers beat the Cowboys, and I went home to proudly tell my father I was a Packers fan instead.”

Though growing up in New York, Grossi said he never had an affiliation with the Giants or Jets – who he jokingly said, “Let’s be honest, they play their home games in New Jersey.”

“The (Packers upset of the Cowboys) was during the Favre era,” he said. “When I went home and told my dad I was now a Packers fan, he laughed it off. I’ve stayed that way for 27 years. Eventually, he knew I wouldn’t let it go. My dad and I went to the ‘Dez (Bryant) no catch game’ at Lambeau (Jan. 11, 2015). For one of us, it was a long ride home.”

2025 NFL Draft

With the 2025 NFL Draft coming to Green Bay April 24-26, Grossi said, “100% I’ll be there.”

“I’m going to pull every string imaginable to anyone I’ve made a connection with to announce one of the Packers’ draft picks,” he said. “It’s going to be a crazy time in Green Bay – I can’t wait for it all.”

As like anything else Grossi commits to, “I will definitely have a charity in mind for the draft.”

Wisconsin – sometime soon

Grossi said moving to Wisconsin is on his radar – “hopefully soon.”

“I’m looking at living just outside of Milwaukee,” he said. “The reason for that is, when I first flew into Milwaukee, I remember seeing a shop full of cheeseheads. Spending time in Milwaukee, I’ve fallen in love with the city. I’ve wanted to live there for years, and it doesn’t hurt that my favorite team is less than two hours away.”

Whenever that happens, one thing is clear – Tom Grossi’s heart is and has always been with the State of Wisconsin, The Green Bay Packers and the cheeseheads that call it home.

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