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A Look Back at Forrest Gregg

Forrest Gregg, Hall of Fame offensive lineman who spent 14 of his 15 seasons as a player with the Green Bay Packers and four seasons as head coach, passed away on April 12 at the age of 85 due to complications associated with Parkinson’s disease.

 

Gregg played college ball at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He was drafted by the Packers in the second round (20th overall) in the 1956 NFL Draft. He was mostly a right tackle during the Packers dynasty seasons under head coach Vince Lombardi. Gregg made six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1959 through 1964 and three more from 1966 through 1968. He was also named first team All-Pro in 1960, 1962-1964 and 1967-1967. Gregg was also honored with eight consecutive All-NFL team selections from 1960 through 1967. One of the toughest and most competitive linemen in NFL history, Gregg played in 187 games with the Packers before playing in six games with the Dallas Cowboys in 1971 before retiring as a player at the age of 38.

 

In addition to his All-Pro, Pro Bowl and All-NFL honors, Gregg was a member of five NFL Championship teams (1961, 1962, 1965-1967) and three Super Bowl Championship teams (I, II and VI), his final with the Cowboys. Gregg was considered one of the finest players ever by coach Lombardi and was at one time ranked among the top offensive lineman in league history.

 

Forrest Gregg In 1972 Gregg began his coaching career as an offensive line coach with the San Diego Chargers and had the same role the following season with the Cleveland Browns. In 1975, Gregg was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns, going 3-11 in his first season before posting a 9-5 record in 1976. After a 6-7 start in the 1977 season, Gregg was fired as head coach. All told, Gregg compiled an 18-23 record during his time in Cleveland. Gregg was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 as a player along with a group that included Bart Starr, Gale Sayers, Bill Willis and Frank Gifford.

 

Away from football in 1978, Gregg returned to the coaching scene in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts, posting a record of 5-11. He returned to the NFL the following season as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. After going 6-10 in his first season in Cincinnati, Gregg lead the Bengals to a 12-4 record and an appearance in Super Bowl XVI, losing to the 49ers by the score of 26-21. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Bengals went 7-2 under Gregg but lost in the first round of the AFC playoffs to the Jets.

 

After the 1983 season, Bart Starr stepped away as head coach of the Packers and Gregg was allowed out of his contract in Cincinnati. This paved the way for Gregg to take over as head coach of the Packers. He posted back-to-back second place finishes in the division with an 8 -8 record both seasons. Unfortunately, Gregg was never able to lead the team he played for the majority of his career to the post season, finishing with a combined 9-21-1 record over his final two seasons. After stepping down as head coach of the Packers in 1988, Gregg took the head coaching job as his alma mater, SMU. The team he took over had been penalized by the NCAA for rules violations and as a result their 1987 season was cancelled by the NCAA and the school opted to cancel in 1988. Rebuilding the program with a roster filled with undersized, inexperienced players, SMU went 2-9 in 1989 and 1-10 in 1990. The worst debacle was a 74 point loss to Houston in 1989 in which Houston scored 10 touchdowns in the air. Gregg stepped down as coach following the 1990 season to concentrate on his duties as SMU’s athletic director.

 

Gregg left SMU in 1994 to make his final stint as head coach, this time back in the Canadian Football League with the Shreveport Pirates. He posted a record of 3-15 in 1994 and 5-13 in 1995. The team folded following the 1995 season.
Gregg posted a career NFL coaching record of 75-85-1, a collegiate record of 3-29 and CFL record of 13-39.

Tom Silverstein wrote a great piece on Gregg and his life which you can read here: https://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2019/04/12/hall-fame-packers-tackle-former-coach-forrest-gregg-dies-85/1689677002/

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Ed Rooney

Just a guy with too much free time trying to help out.

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3 Comments

  1. Howard April 15, 2019

    Very good Ed. I know LaFleur said a few words in his tweet. Did the Packer’s team President issue an official team statement regarding Forrest Gregg’s passing and expressing condolences to the Gregg family?

    1. Kato April 18, 2019

      I don’t think so

  2. PF4L April 17, 2019

    I’ll second that. Very nice time retrospective Ed.

    Well done.

    Green Bay Packer homage.