Forrest Gregg was the “finest” football player that legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi had the opportunity with which to work – but that was just one of an infinitesimal number of reasons that the former Packer player was honored Monday in his hometown of Sulphur Springs, Texas.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance selected Gregg to be honored as part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers” program – an honor that they have bestowed on many former players from across the NFL.
But Monday was Gregg’s day.
In an interview with lombardiave.com prior to his induction, Gregg couldn’t express enough gratitude for his selection:
“This is very special time for us – the whole family,” Gregg said. “My daughter, Karen, is going to present me and we’ll have all those old friends there. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Allstate and the Hall of Fame. I feel like this is an award not just for me, but for Sulphur Springs and Sulphur Springs High School and all the people I went to school with.”
And such was the case.
According to an account by representatives of the hosts who were there, this is how things transpired:
There were not one but two presenters for Gregg. The first was local radio personality, Bill Bradford. A very close friend of the family, Bradford went on to tell the crowd that the young man he knew from high school football days is the same man he knows today – one who stands by his morals and never lets those close to him down. Bradford looked out at the crowd at the end of his speech and said, “If there is a young person out there looking for a hero, they need look no further than Forrest Gregg.”The next presenter was Gregg’s daughter, Karen Spehar. Before speaking about her father, Spehar thanked the Sulphur Springs community for encouraging Gregg to follow his dreams. Without this community, she said, he would not be the man he is today.As Gregg stepped forward to unveil the plaque with his daughter, the crowd jumped to their feet to congratulate the
accomplishments of one of their own.Gregg started by thanking everyone in attendance and even those from the Sulphur Springs community who could not be there. He said, “Whatever I have achieved links back to this town and this high school.”What was truly remarkable were the people in attendance who had come to support Gregg. Looking out into the crowd, Gregg spent time thanking members of the SMU community, particularly a group of football players known as the “Young Guns” whom he had coached. And teammates from both the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, all of whom had come out to support not just a teammate but a friend.
Gregg, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for a couple of years, told us here at lombardiave that he was grateful for everything that former players and friends have done for him over the years and that he continues to work to stay well.