Alvis Forrest Gregg (born October 18, 1933) was a former American football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL) and the NCAA. A Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman for sixteen seasons, 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 the Packers), as well as two Canadian Football League teams (Toronto Argonauts and Shreveport Pirates). As a player, Gregg was a member of 6 world championship teams (5 with the Packers, and 1 with the Cowboys.) As a head coach, he led the 1981 Bengals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 26-21.
Early life and college career[edit | edit source]
Born in Birthright, Texas, Gregg attended Sulphur Springs High School in Sulphur Springs and played college football at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Playing career[edit | edit source]
Gregg was a key player on the Packers dynasty of head coach Vince Lombardi that won five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls in the 1960s. He played mostly at right tackle, but also filled in at guard. Gregg earned an "iron-man" tag by playing in a then-league record 188 consecutive games in sixteen seasons, from 1956 until 1971. He also won All-NFL acclaim eight straight years from 1960 through 1967 and was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.
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 world championship team in 1958) in professional football history to play on six teams that won World Championships. Gregg wore jersey number 75 for fifteen seasons in Green Bay, but that number belonged to Jethro Pugh in Dallas, so Gregg wore number 79 for his final season in 1971.
Vince Lombardi claimed "Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached!" in his book Run to Daylight. In 1999, he was ranked number 28 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, ranking him second behind Ray Nitschke among players coached by Lombardi, second behind Anthony Muñoz (whom he coached) among offensive tackles, and third behind Muñoz and John Hannah among all offensive linemen.
Coaching career[edit | edit source]
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 at the conclusion of the 1974 season, Gregg was promoted to head coach in 1975, a position he held through 1977.
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. Gregg's most successful season as a head coach was in 1981, when he led the Bengals to a 12–4 regular season record. They defeated the San Diego Chargers 27–7 in the AFC championship game (known as the Freezer Bowl), earning them a trip to Super Bowl XVI, where they lost by five points to the San Francisco 49ers, 26–21.
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 contract with the Bengals to take over in Green Bay. He finished his NFL coaching career with the Packers, leading them for four seasons, 1984 through 1987. Gregg's overall record as an NFL coach was 75 wins, 85 losses, and one tie. He also won two and lost two playoff games.
Gregg voluntarily left the Packers in January 1988 and took a salary reduction to take over at SMU, his alma mater. 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. Although the NCAA had only canceled the 1987 season, school officials later opted to cancel the 1988 season due to fears that it would be impossible to field a competitive team; nearly every letterman from the 1986 squad had transferred elsewhere. Although Gregg knew that any new coach would be essentially rebuilding the program from scratch, when acting president William Stalcup asked him to return, he felt that he could only accept.
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 attempt to play the 1988 season under such conditions. In 1989, the Mustangs went 2–9, including a 95–21 thrashing by Houston—the second-worst loss in school history. During that game, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware threw six touchdown passes against SMU in the first half, and David Klingler added four more in the second half, 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. Nonetheless, Gregg still looks fondly on the experience. In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, he said that 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."
After the season, he was named athletic director. The Mustangs went 1–10 in 1990, and after the season Gregg resigned as coach to focus on his duties as athletic director. Gregg's coaching record at SMU was 3 wins and 19 losses, and he served as athletic director until 1994. He returned to the CFL with the Shreveport Pirates in 1994–95, during that league's brief attempt at expansion to the United States. Gregg's overall record as a CFL coach was 13 wins and 39 losses.
When former Shreveport Pirate owner Bernard Glieberman bought a stake in the Ottawa Renegades in May 2005, Gregg was appointed its vice president of football operations.
After football[edit | edit source]
Gregg lived in 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 pro football.
Gregg died on April 12, 2019.