Remembering Forrest Gregg

Chris Sommer
April 12, 2019 - 4:59 pm
Forrest Gregg

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DALLAS (KRLD) - I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to spend some very special Saturdays with Forrest Gregg.

In 1993, I joined the SMU radio broadcast team, working with play-by-play announcer Wally Lynn and with Coach Gregg, who did color commentary, along with his day job as the school's director of athletics.

During my first game at old Ownby Stadium, I remember being both terrified and in awe as I approached Coach Gregg to introduce myself.  I almost had to pinch myself as I shook the giant, grizzled hand of the man anointed by Vince Lombardi as the greatest player he ever coached.  Coach Gregg immediately made this rookie sideline reporter feel welcome and at ease.  My longtime suspicions were quickly confirmed.  This man was not only a Hall of Famer on the field, he was every bit the same in daily life.

I remember Coach Gregg brought a downhome feel to those broadcasts.  One moment he might be diagnosing a successful pass play orchestrated by Ponies quarterback Ramon Flanigan.  The next, he was sending out heartfelt greetings to old friends who were listening along the network somewhere out in west Texas.

Coach Gregg's wife, Barbara, was also a delight.  I remember sitting down for a conversation with her one day in the pressbox at Kyle Field in College Station.  I got her to tell me some of the old stories from the Green Bay Packers days.  My favorite came from the day of the legendary Ice Bowl.  On December 31, 1967, the Packers and Cowboys played for the NFL Championship and the right to advance to Super Bowl II.  The gametime temperature was -15.  Barbara Gregg was pregnant, and as she explained to me, the cold was just too much to take.  She laughed as she recounted listening to that all-important game on the radio, in the car, with the heater running full-blast.

Over the years, I have often thought, "I would love to check in and see how Coach Gregg is doing.  I miss visiting with him."  I wish I had made a better effort.  I just hope he knows how much he influenced me as a broadcaster, as a man and as a Texan.  Prayers for his family and for the extended SMU family upon the loss of this great man.

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