Forrest Gregg

Last updated

Forrest Gregg
No. 75, 79
Position: Offensive tackle
Personal information
Born:(1933-10-18)October 18, 1933
Birthright, Texas, U.S.
Died:April 12, 2019(2019-04-12) (aged 85)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:249 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High school: Sulphur Springs
(Sulphur Springs, Texas)
College: SMU
NFL draft: 1956  / Round: 2 / Pick: 20
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:193
Fumble recoveries:8
NFL coaching record:75–85–1
Player stats at

Alvis Forrest Gregg (October 18, 1933 – April 12, 2019) was an American professional football player and coach. A Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle for 16 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), he was a part of six NFL championships, five of them with the Green Bay Packers before closing out his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys with a win in Super Bowl VI. Gregg was later the head coach of three NFL teams (Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers), as well as two Canadian Football League (CFL) teams (Toronto Argonauts and Shreveport Pirates). He was also a college football coach for the SMU Mustangs.


As a head coach, he led the 1981 Bengals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 26–21. [1]

Early life and college career

Born in October 18, 1933 in Birthright, Texas, [2] Gregg attended Sulphur Springs High School in Sulphur Springs and played college football at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. [1] [3] Playing on both the offensive and defensive line at SMU, Gregg earned All-Southwest Conference honors in his final two seasons. [4]

Playing career

Gregg was a key player in the Packers dynasty of head coach Vince Lombardi that won five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. He played mostly at right tackle, but also filled in at guard. [1] He earned an "iron man" tag by playing in a then-league record 188 consecutive games in 16 seasons from 1956 until 1971. He also won All-NFL honors for eight straight years from 1960 through 1967 and nine Pro Bowl selections. [5]

Gregg closed his career with the Dallas Cowboys, as did his Packer teammate, cornerback Herb Adderley. They both helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI in January 1972, making them the only players (along with former teammate Fuzzy Thurston, who was on the Baltimore Colts NFL championship team in 1958 and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in professional football history to play on six NFL title teams. Gregg wore the number 75 for 15 seasons in Green Bay, but that number belonged to Jethro Pugh in Dallas, so Gregg wore number 79 for his final season in 1971. [6]

It has been reported that Vince Lombardi said, "Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached!" but official Packers team historian Cliff Christl can find no evidence of Lombardi ever saying or writing that. [7] In 1999, he was ranked 28th on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, putting him second behind Ray Nitschke among players coached by Lombardi, second behind Anthony Muñoz (whom he coached) among offensive tackles, and fourth behind Munoz, John Hannah, and Jim Parker among all offensive linemen. [8] He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1977. [9]

Coaching career

After serving as an assistant with the San Diego Chargers in 1973, he took a similar position the following year with the Browns. After head coach Nick Skorich was dismissed after the 1974 season, Gregg was promoted to head coach in 1975, a position he held through 1977. [10] According to Dave Logan, safety Thom Darden and Gregg once had a fist fight after a game. [11] Darden has explained that the 1977 Cleveland Browns did not respond to Gregg's coaching style, which contributed to his firing with one game remaining. [12] In 1977, Darden was one of the vocal dissidents that led to the ouster of Gregg as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. [13]

After sitting out the 1978 season, Gregg returned to coaching in 1979 with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. In 1980, he became the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals for four seasons through 1983. His most successful season as a head coach was in 1981, when he led the Bengals to a 124 regular season record. [14] They defeated the San Diego Chargers 277 in the AFC championship game (known as the Freezer Bowl), [15] earning them a trip to Super Bowl XVI, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 2621. [16]

When his longtime former teammate Bart Starr was fired after nine years as head coach of the Packers in December 1983, Gregg was allowed out of his Bengals' contract to take over in Green Bay. [17] He finished his NFL coaching career with the Packers, leading them for four seasons, 19841987, with a record of 25-37-1. Gregg's overall record as an NFL coach was 75 wins, 85 losses and one tie. He was also 2–2 in playoff games, all with the Bengals. [18] He is one of only two coaches, the other being Marvin Lewis, to have left the Bengals with a winning record.

Gregg resigned from the Packers in January 1988 and took a pay cut to take over at SMU, his alma mater. [19] [20] He was brought in to revive the Mustang football program after it received the "death penalty" from the NCAA for massive violations of NCAA rules. [20] Though the NCAA had only canceled the 1987 season, school officials later opted to cancel the 1988 season due to fears that fielding a competitive team would be impossible; nearly every letterman from the 1986 squad had transferred elsewhere. [21] Gregg knew that any new coach would be essentially rebuilding the program from scratch, but when acting president William Stalcup asked him to return, he felt he could not refuse. [22]

As it turned out, when Gregg arrived, he was presented with a severely undersized and underweight roster composed mostly of freshmen. Gregg was taller and heavier than nearly the entire 70-man squad. The team was so short on offensive linemen that Gregg had to make several wide receivers bulk up and switch to the line. By nearly all accounts, it would have been unthinkable for the Mustangs to return for the 1988 season under such conditions. [23]

In 1989, the Mustangs went 2–9, including a 95–21 thrashing by Houston—the second-worst loss in school history. In that game, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware threw six touchdown passes in the first half, and David Klingler added four more in the second, even with the game long out of reach. Gregg was so disgusted that he refused to shake Houston coach Jack Pardee's hand after the game. [24] Nonetheless, Gregg reflected fondly on the experience. In a 2012 interview with The New York Times , he said the players on the two teams he coached should have had their numbers retired for restoring dignity to the program. "I never coached a group of kids that had more courage," he said. "They thought that they could play with anyone. They were quality people. It was one of the most pleasurable experiences in my football life. Period." [22]

After the season, Gregg was named SMU's athletic director. The Mustangs went 1–10 in 1990, and after the season, he resigned as coach to focus on his duties as athletic director. Gregg's coaching record at SMU was 3–19, [25] and he served as athletic director until 1994. [26]

He returned to the CFL with the Shreveport Pirates in 1994–95, during that league's brief attempt at expansion to the United States. His overall record in the CFL was 13–39. [27]

When former Shreveport Pirates owner Bernard Glieberman bought a stake in the Ottawa Renegades in May 2005, Gregg was appointed Ottawa's vice president of football operations, a position he held through 2006. [28]

Personal life

Gregg married Barbara Dedek in 1960. In the 1970s, he had multiple surgeries for skin cancer. [29]

He retired to Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October 2011, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, thought to be caused by concussions from playing over two decades of high school, college, and professional football. [5] [30] [31]

On April 12, 2019, Gregg died at the age of 85 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. [1] [32]

In addition to his wife, he was survived by a son, Forrest Jr.; a daughter, Karen Gregg Spehar; and several siblings.

Head coaching record


SMU Mustangs (Southwest Conference)(1989–1990)
1989 SMU 2–90–89th
1990 SMU 1–100–89th


TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
CLE 1975 3110.2144th in AFC Central
CLE 1976 950.6433rd in AFC Central
CLE 1977 670.462(fired)
CLE Total18230.439
CIN 1980 6100.3754th in AFC Central
CIN 1981 1240.7501st in AFC Central21.667Lost to 49ers in Super Bowl XVI
CIN 1982 720.7783rd in AFC01.000Lost to Jets in AFC first round Playoffs Game
CIN 1983 790.4383rd in AFC Central
CIN Total32250.56122.500
GB 1984 880.5002nd in NFC Central
GB 1985 880.5002nd in NFC Central
GB 1986 4120.2504th in NFC Central
GB 1987 591.3673rd in NFC Central
GB Total25371.447
NFL Total75851.46922.500


TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
TOR 1979 5110.3134th in CFL East
TOR Total5110.313
SHP 1994 3150.1676th in CFL East
SHP 1995 5130.2785th in CFL South
SHP Total8280.222
CFL Total13390.250

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Goldstein, Richard (April 12, 2019). "Forrest Gregg, Iron Man Lineman for Lombardi's Packers, Dies at 85". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved April 12, 2019.
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  12. Butler, Jason (August 25, 1999). "IN GREGG'S CASE, THE SPY CAME IN FROM THE HALL - BROWNS COACH UNCOVERS MODELL'S AGENT, THEN IS FIRED". Akron Beacon Journal . p. C1. Retrieved April 8, 2024. As the season went on, the team didn't respond well to the way Gregg pushed. Cliques formed, as players' differences polarized the locker room and broke down the team chemistry. "It was tough going to practice," said defensive back Thom Darden. "It was not a good working environment. You could cut the tension with a knife when we were in practice."
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