April 12, 2019
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU football player, NFL Hall-of-Famer, coach and administrator Forrest Gregg died April 12, 2019.
He is remembered as a dominant football player who played both sides of the Mustang line as an offensive and defensive tackle from 1952-55, earning All-Southwest Conference honors in 1954 and 1955. But he is revered for his devotion to his alma mater, leaving his head coach position with the Green Bay Packers to reinstall football at SMU after the University received NCAA sanctions in 1987.
Gregg coached Mustang football in 1989 and 1990 and served as director of athletics from 1990-1994. SMU retired Gregg’s No. 73 jersey in 2000, the same year the University bestowed upon him its highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was inducted into the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Forrest Gregg put his dedication to SMU into action, first as an all-conference player and later as an NFL player and coach who represented his University well both on and off the field. Most of all we remember him for his decision to return to SMU to rebuild Mustang football,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He was a man of integrity, a seasoned leader and a legendary athlete.”
“SMU Athletics will always be indebted to Forrest Gregg for guiding the program through a challenging time, said SMU Athletics Director Rick Hart. “The student-athletes he guided as coach and athletic director continue to speak on the positive, life-long impact he made on their lives.”
After graduating from SMU in 1956, Gregg began a 15-year career as an NFL player – for 14 years with the Green Bay Packers and closing his career in 1971 with the Dallas Cowboys. He earned three Super Bowl rings – the first two for Super Bowls with the Packers and the third for the 1971 Super Bowl with the Cowboys. Later he held coaching positions with the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts. He left his position as head coach for the Packers to return to SMU to coach the Mustangs. Gregg was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977.
Gregg returned to Dallas in 1988 to a standing ovation, three returning players and just 15 scholarship players. When the Mustangs returned to the field in Ownby Stadium in 1989, they lost their first game to Rice, 35-6. By the team’s second game, however, Gregg’s team instilled hope. The Mustangs came back after trailing 23-7 to beat Connecticut 31-30, a game still known as the “Miracle on Mockingbird.”
Years later, Gregg told a New York Times reporter, “I never coached a group of kids that had more courage . . . It was one of the most pleasurable experiences in my football life.”