Wheel of Fortune video supplied courtesy of Califon Productions, Inc.
Before another installment of the 2021 winter season of ABC’s Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (8 ET| 7CT ) airs tonight, Front Row was reminded of the popular game show’s connection to an ABC, ESPN, and football legend.
Bob Griese, who for 24 years excelled as a college football analyst for ABC and ESPN before retiring in 2011, once won an episode that aired Jan. 24, 2006. Bob’s appearance was a family affair as his son Brian Griese – who after NFL stardom eventually became a longtime ABC and ESPN analyst himself – was in the audience. Bob Griese was competing on behalf of his family’s charity, Judi’s House.
The former Miami Dolphins star quarterback outdueled fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Gale Sayers. They, like Griese, were teammates of contestants vying for cash and prizes while the ex-players donated winnings to their respective charities.
During ESPN’s coverage of the Baltimore Ravens-Tennessee Titans AFC playoff game on Jan. 10, Brian noted his dad’s Wheel history when colleague Steve Levy read the ABC show promotion during the telecast.
For this installment of Throwback Thursday, Front Row has unearthed evidence of Bob Griese’s triumph, complete with Brian and other family members cheering Bob on from the studio audience seats. Watch the above video, supplied courtesy of Califon Productions, Inc.
Brian graciously agreed to answer some Wheel-related questions for Front Row.
What’s your fondest memory related to that WOF episode?
I attended the show with my wife Brook who was pregnant with our first child at the time and my dad was playing the game on behalf of Judi’s House [named after Brian’s mother and Bob’s wife Judi, who succumbed to breast cancer], our foundation that was just a few years old at the time. At the start of the taping, the game was not going well for my Dad and his partner, a Miami police officer [Babette Dominquez]. They had rolled multiple “bankrupts” and Gale Sayers and his partner were, seemingly, running away with it.
Then, it all turned. Sayers’ team had the opportunity to solve the final clue that would have solidified their victory, but they got it wrong, which I couldn’t believe. I will never forget the riddle: ‘A platter of sizzling steak fajitas.’ Luckily, my dad and his partner then solved it, which gave them the overall win and the opportunity for the grand prize.
I will also never forget that grand prize riddle, which was ‘Brains and Brawn.’ They also got that correct, earning them the prize – which we still didn’t know what it would be. However, we were ecstatic that Judi’s House would be getting any prize money. Then, they unveiled the prize was $100,000! We couldn’t believe it.
Of course, we had to keep the results of the episode to ourselves. A few months later, when it aired, we held a watch party at Judi’s House. It was pure joy. Just a great experience and memory.
Who would win in a WOF father-son duel and why?
My dad’s mom, my grandmother Ida, watched Wheel of Fortune all the time. Every time I went over, I would watch it with her. My dad, he never watched the show and that day he was on, I don’t think he contributed much. So I would no doubt beat my dad.
If you had to pick an ESPN teammate for WOF, who would you pick and why?
The smartest person I have worked with at ESPN . . . my old college football producer, Josh Hoffman.
Derek Volner contributed to this post.
Celebrity Wheel of Fortune airs Thursday nights at 8 ET | 7 CT on ABC. Constance Zimmer, Maria Menounos, and Yvette Nicole Brown are the celebrities featured in tonight’s installment starring Pat Sajak and Vanna White. Check local listings.