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No. 13

With Ron Cherubini

Chad Grier
Despite Athletic Setbacks, UR Transfer
Made the Most of His Days as a Pirate

If you 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…”

“What is 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).”

(From 1989-90 Pirate Media Guide)

On the 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 solutions.

While most guys his age are eyeing the corner office, dreaming of their shot As a someday As a at calling the shots, Grier is already there, running a growing company.

But on 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.

Though many choices seem innocuous at the time they are made, there are those that in hindsight made all the difference.

It was 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

In 1988, 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.

“I 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.

So Grier reached back a little to some high school connections.

“I met 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.

“I was talking (back and forth) with Mack Brown and I almost transferred to UNC, but there was some confusion over scholarship availability.”

ECU, 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"

Grier was sold. 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.

“After that season, Baker and the entire staff was fired and I had to start over with Coach (Bill) Lewis,” he said.

Even 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.

Still, Grier did get on the field quickly that season when, in the opener, Hunter went down momentarily.

Chad Grier running the ball

“My 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 a and much better than I, so my role on the team became to keep them entertained.”

Though 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.

And 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.

Though, 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

“I’m 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.”

Still today, Grier can’t resist the chance to take a shot at his old nemesis.

“Tim 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.’

“But, I 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.”

The two 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.

“It was 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.”

And it was at ECU, where his real family started.

“I met 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.

"The 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!

“Plus, she paid our way through college winning all of those contests. Now, she doesn’t work… she is paying me back.”

And she has, more than money ever could.

“My goal 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.”

It’s not 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.

“My dad 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

From his 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.

“It’s 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.”

And, from his mother Carol, he gets that goofiness that has served him well throughout his life and athletic career.

“My mom 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 nut.”

The 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

“Coach 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.”

The transition announced the end to Grier’s chances of ever really seeing the field.

“Let’s just say we were philosophically opposed,” Grier laughed. “Philosophically, he thought I sucked and I thought I was OK.

"But 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.

"His big 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.”

Grier 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 emerging company.

“When (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 right direction.”

That first opportunity was with Carolina Telephone, working in sales out of Kernersville.

“At the time, I had sold my baseball card collection so that we could eat — and the next week, I got the job.”

Legend of the Naked Five

The recollections are a little sketchy some 10 years after the fact, but all parties involved in a now-famous naked excursion agree on one thing for sure… it was Chad Grier’s idea. And Bonesville has the proof... FROM THE 'BOYS-WILL-BE-BOYS' FILE...

That 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.

“I really got lucky, working for some very smart people,” he said.

Grier 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).”

After integrating the two companies, Grier opted to move on, heading to his current position as the CEO at META Security Group.

“This 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.

“I have 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 opportunities.

"My 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.”

Things really can’t get much better these days for Grier — and he knows it.

“Yes, I lead the glamorous life, being a CEO, looking out the window of the greater Detroits and Clevelands of the world.”

Looking 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 gas.”

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Pirate Time Machine Archives
Tabari Wallace
Ken Burnette
Greg Gardill
Sean McConnell
Daren Hart
Pete Zophy
Shane Hubble
Mike Myrick
Ken Strayhorn
Pat Watkins
Don Tyson
Daniel Boone


Name (Nickname):

Chad Grier (Nickname not suitable for print)





Years at ECU:

1988-90, Transfer from University of Richmond

Position/Jersey No.

Quarterback/ No. 7


Charlotte, NC

Currently Resides:

Davidson, NC


CEO META Security Group

  • BA Journalism, East Carolina

  • MBA, Queens College, Charlotte


Marital Status:


Significant Other:


  • Will, 6

  • Nash, 4

  • Hayes, 1


“I played as a freshman and started as a sophomore (at Richmond). 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 great experience for me; I just wanted to play (big-time) football.”


1. Who is your favorite current Pirate and Why?

“Paul Troth. Big QB from Charlotte who loves to throw it around. Hopefully he’ll never break my record for most consecutive quarters wearing a baseball hat.”

2. What do you miss most about ECU?

“Scott Hall. The training table. Rookie night. Playing Tonk with Travis Hunter. Hanging out with Elizabeth (back when she was paying the bills).”

3. Where is your favorite spot on the ECU campus?

“Lunch-time class change at the Student Store in the Spring. The scenery was fantastic… and there were lots of friendly-looking people around as well.”

4. What was your dorm room and favorite dorm story?

“Scott Hall 115 with Shane Hubble. Toss up between the Tim Wolters ‘Porkys’ incident with Ike Pullet and Jeff Cooke, the time Tim Wolters room ‘caught on fire’ with him locked in it, the Tim Wolters ‘I Need A Date’ posters, The Luke stole Amy episode of Tim Wolter’s love life, one of the dozens of times Tim Wolters was stripped naked and locked outside of his suite, Herb and the Misty Blue, Shane and the mysterious toilet paper, Keith Stephens and ‘just 3 more seconds,’ Keg parties at Blue’s, anything that Walter Wilson did, Puddin’ and the Mange, Willie Lewis playing basketball, and the team-wide boycott of winter conditioning that lasted up until the time that Coach Lewis showed up at the dorm. Overall, not much happened at the dorm.”

Grier, the Offensive Line and Willie
Lewis, who, according to Grier, is the
"World's Worst Black Basketball Player."


5. Greatest Moment as a Pirate football player?

“Sadly, completing a 2-point conversion on my first throw as a Pirate in the opener in 1989, barely outdistancing the hit I made against Virginia Tech after a cocky Hokie was running with a non-fumble recovery. I put a Scott Steiner-like belly-to-belly suplex on him in front of the student-section. They thought that was pretty cool, although I didn’t get to play too much after that. I did have a prime view of some great plays though As a namely Anthony Thompson’s wicked sack at Syracuse and an electrifying Darren Bynum punt return for a TD. (Tim Wolter’s fair-catch interception against some 1-AA directional school is not one of them).”

Rob Imperatto, Shane Hubble and Chad
Grier prepping for the Syracuse game
in the Carrier Dome


6. Most disliked opponent?

“The scout team defense on Tuesdays. Or South Carolina (I got picked in the end zone after a long drive As a it was a terrible pass but damnit, Hunter made those catches for Blake).”

7. Athletic Influences?

“Ben Grier.”

8. Favorite coach?

“(1)Kevin Gilbride, (2)Art Baker, (3)Mark Richt.. Larry McNulty and Dal Shealy are my favorite non-Pirate coaches.”

9. Best Locker Room Story

“I was a 2-time emcee at Rookie Night and was there to witness first-hand the living-legend Marc Washington come out of retirement and claim his title from young upstarts like Garret Beasly, Derek Paisley and Cedric Van Buren.”

10. Best Emerald City hangout?

“B’s Barbecue (they would hook me up with the left-overs at closing time). Krispy Kreme after downtown closed. Sub-Station II where Bird’s shoes always seemed to catch on fire.”


Legend of the Naked Five

The recollections are a little sketchy some 10 years after the fact, but all parties involved in a now-famous naked excursion agree on one thing for sure… it was Chad Grier’s idea. And Bonesville has the proof... FROM THE 'BOYS-WILL-BE-BOYS' FILE...

Pirate Time Machine Archives
Tabari Wallace
Ken Burnette
Greg Gardill
Sean McConnell
Daren Hart
Pete Zophy
Shane Hubble
Mike Myrick
Ken Strayhorn
Pat Watkins
Don Tyson
Daniel Boone

02/23/2007 02:08:35 PM

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