Former Bengals coach Forrest Gregg fighting Parkinson's

Forrest Gregg (Source: Colorado Neurological Institute)
Forrest Gregg (Source: Colorado Neurological Institute)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Former Bengals head coach Forrest Gregg, who earned the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in a then-record 188 consecutive NFL games during his Hall of Fame career, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Although the cause of the debilitating neurological disorder is unknown, Gregg, his family and his neurologist say his disease may be related to numerous concussions he suffered during his playing career in the 1950s at SMU and from 1956-71 with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.

From 1980-83, he was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. He coached the team to a 12-4 record during the 1981-82 season. The team lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

Gregg was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and is a nine-time pro bowler and a seven-time All Pro.

The 78-year-old Gregg was diagnosed last month after being referred to Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a Parkinson's expert and medical director of the Colorado Neurological Institute's Movement Disorders Center in Denver.

Gregg's symptoms include hand tremors, a stooped posture, shortened stride and softened voice.

Gregg was born in 1933 in Sulphur Springs, Texas. In 2010, he was ranked the 54th greatest player of all time by the NFL Network. Vince Lombardi, who coached those great Packer teams, once described Gregg as "the finest player I ever coached."

Bengals owner Mike Brown issued a statement Wednesday, saying, "I consider Forrest a very dear friend. We have seen him often during the years since he left the Bengals, and he called some time ago to inform me regarding his diagnosis. This is of course a matter of serious concern, but I know Forrest as a man of exceptional determination and spirit, and we are assured he is receiving the best possible advice and care. I applaud him for helping to raise public awareness of the fight against Parkinson's Disease, and the Bengals look forward to continuing our warm relationship with Forrest, his wife Barbara, and the Gregg family."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. FOX19 staff contributed to this report.