Northeasterner heads south
Catching up with Dan Ross
SAUGUS -- The New England Patriots playoff game against the Tennessee Titans earlier this year was played in bitter cold weather with game time temperature in single digits and a wind chill of minus-10 degrees.
That was nothing compared to what former Northeastern football star Dan Ross played in as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals during the 1981 AFC Championship game against the San Diego Chargers.
The temperature at game time in Cincinnati was minus-9 degrees with a wind chill of minus-59, officially the coldest game in NFL history. That day the Bengals defeated the Chargers 27-7 and advanced to Super Bowl XVI where they fell to the San Francisco 49ers, 26-21 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit.
"It was at a point where I had panty hose on, thermal underwear on, a sweatshirt on, a plastic windbreaker on, and a ski mask over my face," said Ross. "It was extremely cold and you could not even breathe. The air was so cold it actually hurt your lungs."
These days, the former Northeastern star tight end owns a television station, WBWP Channel 57, (www.wbwptv.com) in West Palm Beach, Fla., with his brother-in-law Rick Hart and their good friend Vincent Dicesare. Each month Ross splits his time spending two weeks in Florida then two weeks in Saugus with his wife Joan, who works for JMA Mortgage in Wakefield.
"I am involved in everything from the programming to the sales to the running of it day to day," said Ross about his television station. "It's a lot of fun. The license came up for sale and we purchased it about three years ago. The TV station consumes all my time and actually I need more time in my week."
While in Florida, Ross gets to visit with his daughter Jillian, who is a student at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Back in Massachusetts, his son Dan Ross Jr. followed in his footsteps and is a quarterback on the Huskies football team.
When he was at Northeastern (1975-78), Dan Ross earned All-American honors during his junior and senior seasons, set numerous school records and won both of New England's highest football honors, the Bulger Lowe (outstanding player) and Harry Agganis (outstanding senior) Awards.
After his final football game at Northeastern, the Huskies officially retired his No. 84.
"That was unbelievable and they gave me a nice big portrait," said Ross. " It's pretty neat knowing that the No. 84 can never be worn again. Northeastern was great to me and I owe them a lot. It is a great school and I have nothing but great things to say about them."
Soon after, the NFL called his number. The Bengals drafting Ross in the second round.
"It was awesome just knowing that you had a chance to get drafted," said Ross. "All the professional scouts came around and worked me out. It was really a tough experience because everyday you were working out for a different team and then the teams came back and worked you out again."
Ross made quite a name for himself with the Bengals in his first year, earning a spot on the All-Rookie team. He is often picked as the tight end for All-Time Super Bowl teams. In Super Bowl XVI, Ross caught 11 passes setting a Super Bowl record that he now shares with the 49ers Jerry Rice.
"I wish I played in another Super Bowl because I don't think I appreciated it enough," said Ross. "It was the first time and I was nervous. I just wish I could have gone back to a second Super Bowl so I could have enjoyed it."
Now, however, the football playing days are behind Ross and it's safe to say he will not run into a wind chill of minus-59 running his television station in Florida.
If you are interested in finding out where a New England sports legend is these days, please e-mail Jon Goode at firstname.lastname@example.org