Hopkins County native, Forrest Gregg, fields questions at a recent book signing,
in Dallas, as he tells about his life on and off the football field.
Hopkins County Native and Football Legend,
Forrest Gregg, Tells Life Story in New Book
by: Bobby McDonald
"It wasn't until I had children of my own that I realized how special my childhood was," begins Football Legend, Forrest Gregg, in his new book, Winning in the Trenches, that is now available at Barnes and Noble Bookstores. "We had the freedom to just take off and go. My brothers and I would get on our ponies and ride through the countryside. Unfortunately, I don't suppose there's any way to relive that time in America."
Forrest Gregg was in North Dallas, at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, located at Northwest Highway and North Park, as he promoted the new book and conducted a book signing, on Saturday, May 8th. "I grew up in a small community, north of Sulphur Springs, that most of you don't even know where it is," related Gregg. "Birthright was 10 miles north of the county seat, Sulphur Springs....and at the time, Sulphur Springs had only about 6,000 people, and Birthright was 'pushing it' to have 250 or more, but you knew almost everyone."
"Our small community had a blacksmith shop, a grist mill, a cotton gin, a schoolhouse, a church, and three grocery stores," continued Gregg. "My father was 'adopted' by the town's namesakes, the Birthrights, when his family left for California. I think it always bothered him, that his parents left him. But like many men of his time, he was stoic and kept his emotions in check."
"We inherited an interesting old house that was built just before or during the Civil War," remembered Gregg. "It was an old, rambling board building with a number of rooms; a living room, kitchen, dining room, and, for our ever growing family, six bedrooms. It was located in the middle of Birthright and my parents would eventually have eleven children, five boys and six girls. We grew cotton, corn, feed for our beef and dairy cattle, and had a huge garden."
"In Birthright, the store was a gathering place and owned by Jess Orr," related Gregg. "Inside Jess Orr's store a radio played all the time and through that radio we received the news of the world: war bulletins, sporting events, and everything that was happening. I vividly recall listening to the Joe Louis-Billy Conn fight in Jess Orr's. It seems like the whole town was huddled around the radio that night. And, there were a lot of baseball broadcasts from that radio!"
"On a farm, there is really never any time off," related Gregg. "There were hard times, and one of my first responsibilities was to thin the cotton plants out; otherwise, the plants would grow too close together and some would die! You'd pray for rain and when the rain did come, we'd get a brief respite from the fields!"
Gregg related that many times, and especially with the Mother's Day holiday, being the next day, "My mother, though, never had the day off. With all those kids and a home to tend, you can imagine how she spent her days!"
"Forrest Gregg is truly the finest player I have ever coached!"
~ Coach Vince Lombardi ~
Gregg told of his family moving from Birthright to Miller Grove, when he was 10 years old, and an incident that "stuck with him." "We were riding to the store in the Miller Grove Community and the back of the pick-up was full of all us kids," stated Gregg. "When we got out, a smart-aleck kid started counting all of us out loud, and making fun. I went up to him and told him that I didn't ever want to hear him do that again!"
Gregg tells of walking a mile to catch the school bus to come to school in Sulphur Springs and later moving into a room in the gym at Sulphur Springs High School, so he could play football. "I knew that the only way I'd get a college education was to get a football scholarship," denotes Gregg. "When I graduated Sulphur Springs High School, I planned on going to Texas A&M University, but a coincidental trip to SMU, compliments of Sulphur Springs native Sleepy Morgan, landed me in Dallas and I became a Mustang."
Of course, the rest of Gregg's story is "history." He was All-Southwest Conference, played for Coaching Great, Vince Lombardi as a Green Bay Packer, won Super Bowls, and Coached for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, as well as three teams in the Canadian Football League, and then returned to coach at SMU.
"I've been very, very fortunate!" states Gregg. "I've lived a life far beyond any dreams I ever had, and the blessings in life continue to amaze me."
"I was approached about writing a book and joined forces with Andrew O'Toole, and soon we were going forward full steam!" states Gregg, about the book. "It's been a great lesson in remembering all those people who helped to shape your life and times."
National Football League Hall of Famer, Forrest Gregg, now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife Barbara. They are the parents of two children, Forrest Gregg, Jr. and Karen.
I got my signed copy of Winning In The Trenches and haven't "put it down," since Saturday. It's truly a "must" read for anyone from Hopkins County!
Football legend and Hopkins County native, Forrest Gregg, autographs copies of his new book, "Winning in the Trenches,"
at Saturday's North Dallas Booksigning.