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Forrest Gregg was remembered Wednesday - zhangzk - 07-02-2019

COLORADO SPRINGS , Colo. (AP) — gentle giant who was as comfortable playing Barbie dolls with his daughter as he was playing football for Vince Lombardi.Gregg died Friday at age 85 after a long fight with Parkinson’s, a disease his neurologist and family believe might have been triggered by the countless concussions he sustained while playing football in the 1950s at SMU and in the NFL from 1956-71.“Forrest Gregg is one of the giants of the game,” Hall of Fame President David Baker said, noting Gregg was one of a handful of players to win six NFL titles in a league that’s celebrating its 100th season. The others are his Packers teammates Herb Adderley and Fuzzy Thurston and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.Gregg’s booming baritone that was reduced to a whisper in his later years reverberated through the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs as his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 1977 was played on two screens above the altar.After playing 14 seasons in Green Bay, Gregg won one more Super Bowl in 1971 in Dallas. He went on to win 75 games in 11 seasons as a head coach in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Green Bay and he took the Bengals to their first Super Bowl during the 1981 season when they lost 26-21 to Joe Montana and the 49ers.Bengals owner Mike Brown was among those who attended the funeral for the man Lombardi once called “the finest football player I ever coached.”In an interview with The Associated Press in 2013, Gregg said “the finest bunch of players I was ever around,” weren’t Lombardi’s Packers or Tom Landry’s Cowboys but “the courageous kids at SMU.” They went just 3-19 from 1989-90 after Gregg was hired at his alma mater to restore integrity to a program that was handed the “death penalty” in the mid-1980s for paying players.Baker spoke at the funeral, as did Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton, who played for Gregg in Green Bay, and Greg Gardner, who was among two dozen ex-SMU players who stood at one point to sing “Varsity” in a moving moment at the public church service that preceded a private burial.Lofton said he saw another side of Gregg upon his retirement when Gregg, who was then the athletic director at SMU, invited him to bring his three young children to a basketball game. Afterward, they went up to Gregg’s office, “and he bounced my kids on his knee and I’m thinking, where’d this guy come from?”“The image that a lot of Packers fans, a lot of people, might have of Forrest Gregg is that iconic picture of Forrest covered in mud ,” Lofton said. “What I saw that day I think is what people in this room saw. We saw a loving father Drew Sample Jersey , a loving husband, a loving grandfather. I saw a loving man, someone that I respected, someone that I loved.”Gregg’s daughter, Karen Gregg Spehar, said her father was every bit the family man that he was the football man.“At his core, his life was about love,” she said.She shared some of her most poignant memories of her childhood when her father gladly attended her tea parties.She recalled “a giant smiling man sitting across from me, our pinkie fingers raised just so.”In addition to his daughter, Gregg, who was born Oct. 18, 1933, in Birthright, Texas, is survived by Barbara, his wife of 59 years, his son, Forrest Gregg Jr., and his son-in-law, James H. Spehar.Gregg , who earned the nickname “Iron Man” for playing in a then-record 188 consecutive games during his career, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in October 2011. He quickly embarked on a campaign to raise public awareness about the incurable disease, teaming with the AP to reveal his diagnosis so he could urge others to seek treatment early enough to delay the degenerative effects.His daughter said after the funeral that the family donated his brain to Boston University’s CTE Center, which conducts research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma in athletes and military personnel.“We decided as a family to donate his brain to Boston University because we are not sure what’s going on with his brain as far as either Parkinson’s or CTE because of his repetitive concussion syndrome that he experienced in football,” Gregg Spehar said. “So we are going to find in eight months to a year really what happened with his brain.“And we will share that report with anybody who wants to know so that people can learn about what happens in the world of football and also what happens with Parkinson’s in the brain,” she said. “So, we are hoping that his ultimate gift with be a gift that helps more people.” NEW YORK (AP) — Todd Bowles’ tenure with the New York Jets began four years ago with plenty of promise. It ended with too many losses and no playoff appearances.The team announced the long-expected decision that it moved on from Bowles on Sunday night, a few hours after the Jets wrapped up their season with a 38-3 loss at New England.“I would like to thank coach Bowles for his dedication to the New York Jets for the last four years,” Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take. I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”Bowles, 54, was hired in January 2015 after New York fired Rex Ryan. The Jets got off to a solid start under Bowles, who guided them to a 10-6 record. But they fell a win shy of the playoffs in his first season after losing a win-and-in game against Ryan’s Bills. Still, many expected the Jets to take the next step under Bowles.It never happened.There was some uncertainty surrounding general manager Mike Maccagnan’s job status, but it appears he will remain in his role and help lead the Jets’ search for a new coach.New York went 4-12 this year after going 5-11 in each of the last two seasons, and Bowles’ in-game management became a focus of heavy criticism. The stoic coach also never endeared himself to frustrated fans who often mistook Bowles’ lack of public emotion for an absence of passion.Bowles was on the hot seat last season, but the team stuck together and he and Maccagnan were given two-year extensions last December by Johnson.The Jets entered this season with their focus on developing rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, and Johnson did not set a playoff mandate for Bowles or Maccagnan. But the former USC star threw a league-leading 14 interceptions before straining his right foot against Miami on Nov. 4 and sitting out three games.There were glimmers of promise when Darnold returned from the foot injury Ryan Finley Jersey , with the rookie throwing for 931 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception — and looking very much a quarterback who can lead the team into the future.Darnold will have to do that with a new coach, though.It appeared Bowles’ fate was sealed when the Jets were blown out by AFC East-rival Buffalo 41-10 on Nov. 11. But Johnson chose to have Bowles finish the season, something New York has traditionally done with its head coaches. The Jets haven’t had an in-season coaching change since 1976, when Lou Holtz resigned with one game remaining and was replaced by Mike Holovak.Still, Bowles was headed to an inevitable ending with the Jets — but never allowed the outside speculation and rumors affect his day-to-day approach with his players.Several players praised Bowles for how he handled himself through everything, and often insisted the team’s failing weren’t the coach’s fault. Still, when asked last week of his assessment of his performance, Bowles pointed the finger only at himself.“The record says it all,” Bowles said.The Jets’ next coach will likely be working with a revamped roster, with the team expected to have more than $100 million in salary cap space in the offseason. The goal will be to surround Darnold with as much talent as possible while the franchise builds for the future.Maccagnan has also been heavily criticized for his spotty track record in the draft and lack of overall roster depth at key spots, but will get a chance to continue shaping the team.“You have to go get players, man,” safety Jamal Adams said after the game. “You have to get big-time players. It’s simple. You look at the Saints. You look at the Rams. You look at the Chicago Bears. You look at all those teams. You have to go get players.”Maccagnan was hired by the Jets a day before they brought on Bowles, and the two appeared to have a mostly solid working relationship. But the makeup of the roster has left something to be desired — and Maccagnan didn’t have the ultimate say in the hiring of Bowles, something he will likely have this time around.Recent first-rounders Adams, Leonard Williams and Darron Lee are starters, along with Darnold, but only 12 of the 22 players drafted from 2015-17 under Maccagnan remain on the roster. The bulk of the crop from those draft classes should be major depth pieces now, namely wide receivers Devin Smith (second round, 2015) , ArDarius Stewart (third round, 2017) and Chad Hansen (fourth, 2017), and linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (third round, 2015).Maccagnan’s biggest draft blunder came in 2016, when he took quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round despite most NFL scouts considering the former Penn State star a major project. Hackenberg never developed, was traded to Oakland in May and is now in the Alliance of American Football after stops with two other NFL teams.As a result of the lackluster drafts, the Jets will need to make a big-time splash in free agency during the offseason.Bowles came to the Jets as a highly sought candidate after leading Arizona’s aggressive-style defense for two seasons and winning the first AP Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2014. He beat out five other candidates, including current Atlanta coach Dan Quinn and Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone.It marked a homecoming for Bowles, a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who also served as the Jets’ defensive backs coach under Al Groh during the 2000 season. Bowles played eight NFL seasons as a defensive back before working his way through the coaching ranks as an assistant. He went 2-1 as Miami’s interim head coach in 2011.Bowles was the Jets’ sixth straight defense-focused head coach and fifth since Woody Johnson took over the Jets in 2000, joining Ryan, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Groh and Bill Parcells.New York could opt to go with an offense-minded coach this time around, especially with Darnold the face of the franchise and the team’s inability in recent years to develop young quarterbacks.The franchise is also starving for a Super Bowl appearance, something it hasn’t had since 1969.