The “Hometown Hall of Famer™” program traveled to Sulphur Springs, Texas to recognize legendary offensive tackle and Pro Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg. The special plaque ceremony, during which the theme of community took center cage, was held at the Hopkins County Civic Center located on the Sulphur Springs High School campus where Gregg spent some of his happiest years.
Nearly 1,500 people including friends, family, former teammates and students, filled the auditorium while the high school cheerleading team and marching band performed.
The community’s excitement and support for Gregg was evident the minute he walked out on stage. Greeted by loud cheers and a standing ovation, Gregg looked just as excited to be back in the place where it all began.
Mike Lamb, Superintendent of Sulphur Springs Independent School District, served as emcee for the event and started off the ceremony by thanking everyone in the audience who had come to support Gregg. Lamb talked about the impact that Gregg had on the community and the impact that the community had on him.
There were not one but two presenters for Gregg. The first was local radio personality, Bill Bradford, who told the crowd that he learned how to broadcast while Gregg learned to play football at Sulphur Springs. A very close friend of the family, Bradford went on to tell the crowd that the young man he knew from high school football days is the same man he knows today – one who stands by his morals and never lets those close to him down. Bradford looked out at the crowd at the end of his speech and said, “If there is a young person out there looking for a hero, they need look no further than Forrest Gregg.”
The next presenter was Gregg’s daughter, Karen Spehar, who was visibly touched by the support the crowd had been showing her father. Spehar started by thanking the Sulphur Springs community for encouraging Gregg to follow his dreams. “Without this community he would not be the man he is today,” Spehar said. Ending her speech, Spehar told the crowd that her father had a dream he never stopped pursuing and that dedication has taught her and countless others to realize their own dreams.
As Gregg stepped up to the podium, a huge smile spread across his face as the crowd jumped to their feet to congratulate the accomplishments of one of their own.
Gregg started by thanking everyone in attendance and even those from the Sulphur Springs community who could not be there. “Whatever I have achieved links back to this town and this high school,” he said. “From the people who befriended me, gave me a place to live and gave me a job and direction…I want to thank each and every one of you.” His speech followed that humble tone as he spoke more about the community than himself.
Looking out into the crowd, Gregg also took the time to call out the names of former teammates and classmates at Sulphur Springs High School, former teammates and players he coached at Southern Methodist University, and former teammates from the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals-all of whom had come out to support not just a teammate, classmate or coach but a friend.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Forrest Gregg “Hometown Hall of Famer™” road sign will be on display in Sulphur Springs.
Additional speakers included Nathan Crouch, local Allstate agent, and George Veras, president and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises.
"This plaque could be living in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the Hall of Fame chose to give it to the communities." said George Veras, the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. "Sulphur Springs High School is housing a piece of Pro Football Hall of Fame history, and in effect, becoming an extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
After high school, Gregg went on to play football at Southern Methodist University.
Gregg was a second-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1956 NFL Draft. Gregg earned an "iron-man" tag by playing in a then league record 188 consecutive games from 1956 until 1971, his final season which he spent with the Super Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys. As the Packers grew in stature in the 1960s, so too did Gregg. He was a key player on the Packers dynasty that won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls in the 1960s. He also won All-NFL acclaim eight straight years from 1960 through 1967, was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls and was heralded by Pro Football Hall of Famer and Green Bay Packer Head Coach Vince Lombardi as “the finest player I ever coached!"
“On behalf of Allstate, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of Pro Football Hall of Fame member Forrest Gregg and recognize Sulphur Springs High School with a hometown plaque and commemorative road sign here today,” said Crouch.
Gregg was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
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