Forrest Gregg, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who played 15 seasons in the National Football League and coached the Cincinnati Bengals to their first Super Bowl, died Friday. He was 85 and died in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from complications of Parkinson’s disease, according to Barbara Gregg, his wife of 59 years.
Gregg coached both NFL franchises in Ohio. He led Cleveland from 1975 to 1977 and coached the Bengals from 1980 to 1983. He piloted Cincinnati to Super Bowl XVI after the 1982 season, when the Bengals lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
Gregg was 18-23 as coach of the Browns and 32-25 with the Bengals.
“It’s a sad day here,” Bengals President Mike Brown said in a statement released by the team. “My memories of Forrest are very special. He not only was the coach of the team, but we were also good friends.
“As a coach, he was very successful here. We had good people, good players and he got the best out of them. He was demanding. The players didn’t try to cut corners. They went out and did what they had to do, and what we were doing worked. We were somewhat ahead of the curve at the time.”
Gregg also coached the Green Bay Packers from ’84-87, posting a record of 25-37-1.
“It saddens me greatly that he’s gone and I express sympathy to Barbara and his children,” Brown said.
A member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team and the all-decade team of the 1960s, Gregg won three Super Bowls as a player, spending most of his career playing for Vince Lombardi’s Packers. He played in the first two Super Bowls and three other NFL championship teams in Green Bay. He played from 1956 to 1971, spending all but his final season in Green Bay. He ended his career with Dallas in 1971.
He played in nine Pro Bowls.
“The game lost a giant today,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “Forrest Gregg exemplified greatness during a legendary career that earned him a bronzed bust in Canton. He was the type of player who led by example and, in doing so, raised the level of play of all those around him. Forrest symbolized many great traits and virtues that can be learned from this game to inspire people from all walks of life.
“Our heartfelt condolences go to Forrest’s wife Barb and the entire Gregg family. We hope that they find comfort in knowing that his great legacy will live forever at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”