Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg honored in Sulphur Springs



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Posted on April 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 9:19 PM

SULPHUR SPRINGS — The East Texas town of Sulphur Springs welcomed back a hero on Monday. Pro Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg received a standing ovation when he entered the civic center.

He was honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Hometown Hall of Famers program, paying tribute to football's greatest players.

"I just feel like it helps me a little bit to kind of pay back what they gave me which was a chance at life," Gregg said.

The school will get a Hall of Fame plaque, and the city will receive street signs honoring Gregg.

When Gregg first arrived in Sulphur Springs, the old high school became his home. He didn't have a place to stay, so they let him sleep in the coach’s office.

In 1952, Gregg was a high school graduate.

"My greatest ambition as a kid growing up was to play football for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats," Gregg told a packed auditorium.

His pro football career blossomed during the Packers' dynasty, where he won five championships and two Super Bowls playing for Vince Lombardi.

"Lombardi meant what he said — he was the greatest football player he ever coached," said Don McIlhenny, a former teammate. "Of course, a lot of guys thought they were, but it was important that Lombardi knew."

In 1988, Gregg returned to his alma mater at SMU to resurrect a program that had been shut down with the death penalty.

Gregg turned 79 in October. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease a year-and-a-half ago and tries to help others suffering from the same affliction.

"The big thing is to make people aware that you can't be cured, but help your symptoms," Gregg said.

Before he left Sulphur Springs, he recited the words of the school song:

Dear Alma Mater,
We will be true.
We will remember
The gold and the blue.
Where 'ere we are
As years go by
We'll always cherish
Our Sulphur High.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com