Slight detour from the usual baseball stuff to honor the memory of Forrest Gregg, the tremendous Packers lineman and NFL coach, who died today.
His greatness at offensive tackle is undeniable. Vince Lombardi, certainly not a man given to hyperbole, said that Gregg was the finest player he ever coached.
But it was as the Bengals’ head coach that I liked him best. He came to Cincinnati in 1980 with a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners attitude, and turned around a team that had struggled mightily for a few years. The players weren’t quite sure what to make of him at first, but by January 1982 the Bengals were in their first Super Bowl, though they lost to the 49ers that day in Pontiac.
I was a Bengals season-ticket holder in those days, and I loved to watch him roam the sidelines, intense as could be, barking out instructions, with his nose twitching a hundred times a minute when things really got tight.
He was focused, utterly committed, and held the players accountable.
And they won.
These days the NFL is sometimes referred to as the No Fun League; let me tell you, it was a whole bunch of fun to go to Bengals games during those years. And Forrest Gregg was one of the main reasons for that.
I miss that. And I’ll miss him.
RIP, Forrest. And thanks for the memories.