Tom Brady, Steve Gregory, and Vince Wilfork were awarded Player of the Game honors. They were presented with John Madden’s favorite Thanksgiving meal: the turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey).
By Denise Louise Gregorka
Steve Gregory coached for the Miami Dolphins last season and was a safety during his NFL playing days. He is married to Little Falls native Rosanne Geraty Gregory, and when football season would end, they would spend time here in Little Falls at her childhood home.
BEGINNING YEARS AT SYRACUSE
Rosanne is the daughter of Maria & Richard Geraty and sister to Richard Jr. If Geraty Pools comes to your mind, then you have the right family. Steve grew up in Staten Island, NY.
The two of them met in a Sociology class at Syracuse University. Rosanne was a freshman studying Advertising, & Steve was a sophomore studying Marketing & Finance.
They were both athletes at the time. Rosanne played field hockey, and Steve was playing as a defensive back for Syracuse football.
Rosanne already had an appreciation for football since she and her family started going to Syracuse games when she was only six years old. She stated, “My whole family went. We tailgated…it was a big deal.” When she met Steve, her family was very happy to hear he was on the football team. They both laughed when Steve stated, “That’s the joke. The only reason she went to Syracuse was to find me.” The last year Steve played at Syracuse, Rosanne’s mom and dad went to every home and away game with her except one. She said, “They were always there and supportive.”
PROFESSIONAL PLAYING CAREER
~ San Diego Chargers
Steve was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2006.
Steve remembers the bittersweet emotions of going to San Diego “It’s exciting, but it’s hard when you are in a relationship. She was finishing up school, and I was going across the country to live in San Diego.” Rosanne had already taken a job in Manhattan, so she didn’t go with him his first year. He was on the west coast, and she was on the east coast. Steve stated, “In order for us to stay close to each other, she would come on weekends and fly the red-eye to get back to work.”
Rosanne was juggling her career & flying off to San Diego just to see Steve and watch him play. Rosanne remembers, “It was fun, though. It was exciting! I would take the red-eye home and take the subway to work…I would just do it. I never thought about it much.”
They both knew that Steve’s playing career was just getting started and was not a sure thing. Steve stated, “As a young player in the NFL and pro sports, you don’t know how long it’s gonna last or if you’re really gonna make it. She just went to school and got this great degree. For her to not take a job in New York City in order to move out to San Diego, not knowing if I’d make it after that year, was risky. After that season, things were better, and I had a pretty good year. I asked her to move out to San Diego with me.” Rosanne did make the move but also found a job for herself.
Rosanne’s family still managed to go to the games. Steve commented, “She started going to away games with her parents in college, and that kind of transitioned to my NFL career, so that was big, especially when she moved to San Diego with me. Her parents would always meet her at away game cities. It kind of became a little thing for her and her parents to do. They would meet up in random cities to see me play. She has probably been to every NFL stadium in the country. It was a good way to stay close because we were living on the west coast, and they were on the east coast.”
Steve has great memories from the Charger days, recalling, “We bought a house in San Diego, and I loved when everyone would come and visit us. After games and after a win, being at home celebrating with your family, and having everybody around was enjoyable. Even on the day of the game, I always ate a steak before the game. It would be eight in the morning, and I’d be grilling a steak. I’d be eating my pre-game meal, and everyone was tailgating at the house.” Steve found it relaxing to have family around before the game, saying, “If you are just sitting there by yourself with the stress of the game and the pressure of having to go out and perform….it was a way to take your mind off things when you’re hanging out with your family, and they are enjoying it all.”
Steve, Rosanne, and the family would drive into the stadium and park in the player’s parking lot. It was separated from the fans’ lot. Their family would be excited to see all of the players coming in. After the games, all of the players would head back to the player’s parking lot, which was shielded from the public. Steve stated, “We were a good team back then, and we won a lot. After games, everyone would be around their cars; trunks opened up, coolers out, and we’d all be hanging out in the parking lot. The players and the coaches would be there. After a win, the whole stadium cleared out, and we would celebrate together with players and families interacting. It was such an enjoyable time. Times were different back then. People weren’t taking a lot of pictures and putting them on social media.”
They decided to get married during Steve’s last year in San Diego. They came back to Syracuse for their wedding.
Here’s a fun fact…Rosanne’s mother, Maria’s maiden name, was Gregory, and she became Geraty when she wed. Rosanne’s maiden name was Geraty, and she became Gregory when wed! What are the chances?
~ New England Patriots
In 2012 Gregory signed with the New England Patriots as a safety.
Steve and Rosanne uprooted and bought a townhouse in Foxborough right behind the stadium. Steve stated, “New England was unique because there were communities right around the stadium literally within walking distance. There were homes that were close to each other in which a bunch of players lived. Many of us players, me, Wes Walker, and a couple of other friends were living across the street from each other, and it was fun! After games, we would all get together with the families there.”
Rosanne remembers hanging out with many of the players, Tom Brady for one, and being a little star-struck, but she eventually got used to it.
Steve recalled, “A cool thing about the Patriots was that after every game, they would have a big meal under the stadium, in the tunnel with the players and their families. You could take whoever you wanted out onto the field. The stadium was cleared out, and everyone was on the field. People were taking pictures with the players, and kids were playing. That was pretty unique.”
I couldn’t let Steve get away without asking him about the famous “Butt Fumble,” which occurred on Thanksgiving Night 2012 in the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, attempted to improvise off a broken play, ran upfield with the ball, and plowed into the backside of his own lineman, Brandon Moore. The collision flattened Sanchez, who fell backward and lost the ball; Steve Gregory recovered it and ran it back for a touchdown.
The Patriots blew out the Jets, 49-19, in New York. Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, and Steve Gregory were awarded Player of the Game honors. Steve commented, “The best thing about the Butt Fumble is that we were playing on Thanksgiving, which is football at its best. We were playing the prime-time game, and we were in New York playing against the Jets, which is my backyard…that’s where I grew up. Everything about that day, the location, and the moment was just as good as it gets. That was probably the best game I ever had. When it happened, nobody knew it was a butt fumble. It was a play in the game in which I scored a touchdown. It wasn’t until later on the news media started calling it the Butt Fumble, and it took off.” Every year on Thanksgiving, the NFL plays the Butt Fumble footage, and Steve says he gets interviewed about it almost every year.
Rosanne remembers the excitement of that day before the game “Everyone was there, and a couple of players came over. We had Thanksgiving dinner from Boston Market in our hotel room before, and then we all went to the game. It was so much fun.”
~Kansas City Chiefs
Gregory was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs on July 31, 2014, but decided he didn’t want to continue playing football. He stated, ” I signed with them, went to training camp, and about ten or twelve days in, I decided I didn’t want to play anymore. I was getting older. My body was hurting. We just had a baby…all that stuff. I was exhausted from the physicality of the game. So, I decided to retire.” At the age of thirty-one in 2014, he announced his retirement from football. He ended his career with 357 tackles, seven interceptions, 25 defended passes, three sacks, and two touchdowns out of 111 NFL games.
Steve and Rosanne went back to Syracuse after he retired from playing. They bought a house and planned on living there as they decided what direction to take next. They had some real estate deals in the making. The following season, they had dinner at Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer’s home. Scott offered Steve a coaching job for Syracuse, and he took it. On June 4, 2015, the Syracuse athletic department announced Gregory would return as a special teams quality control coach. He spent the season coaching and thought, “I like it. I can do this. This is something I would be interested in pursuing.” During that time, Rosanne was home with a child and took over the real estate business end of things. She said he was gone a lot and stated, “When you are a coach, you work all the time. You don’t stay home if you are sick…you have to go.” After the season, Steve was let go. He explained, ” Unfortunately, at the time, they fired the athletic director, the head coach, and then the entire staff.” Steve laughed. “I ended up getting fired from my alma mater!”
Steve was offered some miscellaneous coaching jobs but decided to wait until the right offer came along, stating, “We didn’t want to move the family at the time if it wasn’t the right level of coaching. So the next two years, no opportunities came along, and we just focused on real estate. We stayed in touch with people I know who were in the coaching and professional sports world.” Matt Patrica, who Steve was close with, got the head coaching job for the Detroit Lions. He brought Steve to Detroit as a defensive assistant coach. Rosanne was hesitant but felt she needed to support Steve. She stated, “It’s definitely a different life. A different world, playing vs. coaching, as far as the time commitment, but I know it makes him happy. I like to see everyone happy. Our family and friends come to see us all the time when he’s coaching, and I love that.”
She shared that it is difficult when Steve is gone coaching. Her mom, Maria, stays with them during some of the winters. Rosanne stated, “She’s definitely a big help for me with the girls and also is good company since he’s gone so much.” Both Rosanne & Steve agreed that it had been a good life. Steve remarked, “It’s like a way of life. Every year it’s something new and something to look forward to. Someone to root for and cheer for. Everyone feels like they are part of that organization trying to go and win a super bowl. Every year that is refreshed when the new season comes along, and there’s excitement about it.” He was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2020.
In 2021, Gregory joined the Dolphins as a defensive assistant, where he would reunite with Dolphins head coach Brian Flores who Steve knew as far back as high school. Flores coached Gregory with the New England Patriots, where Flores was his Safeties coach. Steve said, “I’ve known ‘Flo’ for a long time, and he brought me in.” When Steve left for Miami, Rosanne had just given birth to their second child two weeks prior. She said, “It was during Covid, and I was alone in Detroit with the two girls, getting one to school and having a new baby as well.” She was feeling the sacrifices of the job at that moment in time.
In 2022, Steve was retained by Mike McDaniel and was promoted to the Dolphins safeties coach.
Steve said he liked coaching for Miami and stated that it was also a fun city. He said, “We didn’t win as much as we would’ve liked to. The first year was a rocky one.”
When Flores was fired, they kept Steve for another year, but he was let go in January 2023 when the head coach decided to change out the defensive coordinator whose job Steve was pretty much tied to. He explained, “We were kept there together like a package deal.” Commenting on being let go, he stated, “This one was the toughest one so far.” He added, “Having been in this for a while now, we start to realize the instabilities of it. You don’t get sad because you lost your job. You get sad that you have to uproot your family.” They want their daughters to be happy and want to make the right choices going forward. Every time a new job comes along, they have to move the girls, and the girls have to make new friends, change schools, and re-adapt.
Steve stated, “Those are things we talk about a lot…what’s really worth it, what’s not worth it…do we want to keep doing this?” They love that their oldest daughter, Aviana, is so good at meeting people and socializing, but they still want to do what is best for her and her younger sister. Rosanne explains that there is a lot to moving from one job to another in different cities. “There are highs and lows with the lifestyle. It’s everything. People don’t think about it. It’s changing doctors, dentists, sounds silly, but even hairdressers…. everything in your life. You lose all of your friends. You lose everything. It’s a weird feeling and very isolating. But, you have to keep going.” Still, they both are very appreciative of the opportunities they have been given and realize that playing and coaching in the NFL has been a privilege.
Steve and Rosanne are still living in Florida and are waiting to see what is next for them. They say they will live their life, enjoy their family, do real estate, and see what the future brings.
It became very apparent to me that this couple clearly loves their family more than anything in the world.
It has been a pleasure for me to hear and share their story.
I would suggest that we be on the lookout….for you just might find Steve Gregory coaching your favorite team in the future!
Denise Gregorka is a longtime Little Falls resident who has a love for the city’s people & history.
She is married to Craig, who is a Little Falls native, retired photographer & former business owner.
Denise has done costume collaboration for Broadway and off-Broadway theatre for 18+ years and has also been an antique/collectibles dealer for over 25 years.
She is not a professional writer but is compelled to hear and share the “background story” from engaging Little Falls residents.
If you’d like to reach out to Denise about a story idea, you can email her at email@example.com.