Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Forrest Gregg passed away Friday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced. He was 85.
Gregg was a Hall of Fame right tackle for the Green Bay Packers during their mightiest years, protecting fellow Hall of Famer Bart Starr and serving as a key blocker in coach Vince Lombardi's power sweep running play. He earned All-NFL honors in eight straight seasons from 1960-1967, won five NFL titles and three Super Bowls (I, II and VI) and was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
Following his legendary playing career, Gregg turned to coaching, taking his first head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1975. Gregg helped the Browns reverse a three-year decline, leading the team to a 9-5 mark in 1976. Gregg posted an 18-23 mark in Cleveland before he and the Browns parted ways in 1977.
Gregg headed south to Cincinnati, taking the head coaching job with the Bengals in 1980. In just his second year at the helm, he coached the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Gregg later returned to Green Bay as head coach of the Packers in 1984, a position he held through the end of the 1987 season. A few months after Gregg's hiring, he and the Packers selected current Browns general manager John Dorsey with the 99th overall pick of that year's draft.
“Personally, it’s a sad day for me," Dorsey said Friday. "I will never forget in 1984, getting a phone call and turning to my father and saying, ‘you’ll never believe who just called me. It was Forrest Gregg, head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He just drafted me as the 99th overall pick.' My father knew a lot more about him than I did at the time. I knew he had been one of the greats as a player and was a Hall of Famer. We were both happy that I was going to play for him and I’m proud of the fact that I was in his first draft class.
"He was tough, disciplined and very demanding. He wanted the game to be played a certain way and I always appreciated that about him. He was an honorable man, very principled. As a young player in this league, he was someone you wanted to follow. You could always feel his presence and he always wanted to make sure you knew he wanted the game played to his standard.
"I have a deep respect for him and I have a heavy heart today because he was the guy that brought me into the National Football League. Forrest’s mark in the NFL goes well beyond my time with him. This is a man that dedicated his life to the game of football. His success as a player, then his time coaching -- including in Cleveland with the Browns -- has left a long lasting impression on many. On behalf of the entire Cleveland Browns family we offer our deepest condolences to all his family and his many friends. Our thoughts are especially with his wife Barbara in this most difficult time.”