A native of the South Jersey township of Willingboro, Anthony Griggs was so unassuming he wouldn't have taken for granted it was his birthday even if he read his name on the cake at the party.
"When people see me now, they go, 'Anthony Griggs, former Eagle, you were pretty good in high school, you must have been incredible in college.' And I'm like, 'No, not really,'" Griggs says. "When I was in high school, they had a strike my senior year, so I only played like five games. I still got recruited and went to Villanova and played there for three years. To make a long story short, they got rid of football going into my senior year."
With no team, Griggs and the other players were free to transfer to other schools.
"'Anthony, Nick Saban out of Ohio State wants to see you.' 'Ohio State? Wants to see me? For what?'" Griggs says. "Nick Saban came in and said, 'We'd like to see if you'd consider coming to Ohio State to play.' Basically, that was pretty much the pitch. And I was like, 'No, I'm good. I'm going to just be a regular student.' And he said, 'Well, think about it and let me know. We'd really love to have you.'"
Well, about that.
"I didn't get on the field until the ninth game after somebody got hurt," Griggs says. "So now the season is over and I wasn't no All-Big Ten or anything. It was over. Just like at Villanova, it was over."
After spending his senior season with the Buckeyes, Griggs went to Ohio State's Pro Day for the NFL scouts, but was told by a coach that it's just for his teammates who were All-Americans.
"A second coach came over and said, 'Yeah, that's true. But you're here. Do you want to run?' And I said, 'Nah, I'm good,'" Griggs says. "So I run and some of the scouts come up to me and said, 'What's your name again? How do we get a hold of you? What's your agent's name?' And I'm like, 'Agent? I live in a dorm. You can call me at Smith Hall.'"
Griggs believed that'd be the end of it. However, someone with the Eagles was impressed enough by the linebacker's performance to jot down the dorm's phone number. And when the NFL held its Draft in 1982, Griggs received a call.
"'Anthony, this is Dick Vermeil. We're thinking of taking you in the fourth round.' And I'm thinking it's a joke," Griggs says. "'Yeah, that'd be good. Hey, Dick Vermeil, go ahead. I would love it. Take me. Sure, I'm there.' You know, kidding around.
"He called back in five minutes, 'Hey, Anthony. How's it feel to be a Philadelphia Eagle?' I said, 'Hey, it feels great. I've got to get rolling to class.' And he said, 'Well, my secretary's going to give you a call and get you out here tomorrow.'
"A few minutes later the phone rings. 'Hi Anthony, this is Dick Vermeil's secretary.' And I'm like, 'Wait, what? So I was drafted and you're Dick Vermeil's secretary?' She said, 'That's correct.' And that's when it hit me."
After making the team, Griggs's rookie season, which included a 57-day players strike, saw him playing mostly on special teams. In his second year, Marion Campbell replaced Vermeil as the head coach, and Griggs became Philadelphia's starting right outside linebacker.
In the season opener in San Francisco, Griggs collected his first career interception off of Joe Montana, returned it 32 yards, and helped the Eagles get the year off to a satisfying start with a 22-17 win.
"I remember being in meetings that week and they're saying, 'Montana is going to do this.' And I'm like, 'This is Joe Montana! Joe Montana!' And I'm here trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do just to get in the right position for this guy. Now in my mind, I'm like, 'We've got to make sure we get him down before he figures it out. He's going to figure out what we're doing and he's going to do something,'" laughed Griggs, who had three interceptions that season.
"The play was something where it bounced off of a receiver and I catch it. I remember running and he was a guy that was trying to tackle me, and I ended up hitting him in the head with my knee. He was out for a while. And I'm not saying, 'Oh, I got Joe Montana a concussion.'"
With the Eagles for four seasons, 1982-85, and with the Cleveland Browns for three, Griggs went on to be the Pittsburgh Steelers' director of player development for 13 years.
Making his home in Pittsburgh with his wife, Bethann, and their children: Loren, Lexi, Aaryn, and Alex; Griggs is the president of AG Squared Networks and the owner/founder of AG360.
"From my experiences and also working with the Steelers in the capacity that I was working at, the physical part of it is the easiest part of playing, believe it or not," Griggs says. "It's the mental, the stuff that you think about how you do it. And then the emotional, which drives how you're feeling about how you're doing it.
"So I came up with a program, the AG360, which is a training program on your physical, mental, and emotional approach to being the best you can be. Basically, the athlete as a person, those are the levels of being successful, being high performance. I work with young athletes doing the AG360 training to get them to understand that."
Working primarily with junior high and high school student-athletes, Griggs enjoys seeing their progression, seeing them making their minds up on which sport they'd like to concentrate on and pursue.
"I've seen these young kids making that transition and I try to give them that picture of what this is all about," Griggs says. "When you're out there in the heat on the field by yourself and you're doing some drills, you're at the epitome of being on that edge and sharpening yourself the best you can. Nobody's pushing you but your own consciousness.
"That's not what people see. That's the shadow. Everybody sees what the sunlight hits. But the shadow training is the dark side of nobody's going to see you sweat, the tears, how it hurts, the grind. Everybody talks about it, but sometimes people don't want to see that. They want to see you shine. You want to see yourself shine."