Hall of Famer Gregg remembered as gentle giant

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Forrest Gregg was remembered Wednesday as a gentle giant who was as comfortable playing Barbie dolls with his daughter as he was playing football for Vince Lombardi.

Gregg died Friday at age 85 after a long fight with Parkinson’s, a disease his neurologist and family believe might have been triggered by the countless concussions he sustained while playing football in the 1950s at SMU and in the NFL from 1956 to 1971.

After playing 14 seasons in Green Bay, Gregg won one more Super Bowl in 1971 with the Dallas Cowboys. He went on to win 75 games in 11 seasons as a head coach in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Green Bay, and he took the Bengals to their first Super Bowl during the 1981 season, when they lost 26-21 to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.

Bengals owner Mike Brown was among those who attended the funeral for the man Lombardi once called “the finest football player I ever coached.”8

In an interview with The Associated Press in 2013, Gregg said “the finest bunch of players I was ever around” weren’t Lombardi’s Packers or Tom Landry’s Cowboys but “the courageous kids at SMU.” The Mustangs went just 3-19 from 1989 to 1990 after Gregg was hired at his alma mater to restore integrity to a program that was handed the “death penalty” in the mid-1980s for paying players.

Baker spoke at the funeral, as did Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton, who played for Gregg in Green Bay, and Greg Gardner, who was among two dozen ex-SMU players who stood at one point to sing “Varsity” in a moving moment at the public church service that preceded a private burial.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Lofton said he saw another side of Gregg upon his retirement when Gregg, who was then the athletic director at SMU, invited him to bring his three young children to a basketball game. Afterward, they went up to Gregg’s office, “and he bounced my kids on his knee and I’m thinking, where’d this guy come from?”

“The image that a lot of Packers fans, a lot of people, might have of Forrest Gregg is that iconic picture of Forrest covered in mud,” Lofton said. “What I saw that day I think is what people in this room saw. We saw a loving father, a loving husband, a loving grandfather. I saw a loving man, someone that I respected, someone that I loved.”