Jack Gregory

Jack Gregory in 1972.

Okolona’s Jack Gregory, a second-generation NFL player, died Saturday morning at age 74.

A four-time Pro Bowler at defensive end, Gregory was a ninth-round draft pick in 1966 out of Delta State. He had previously played at Chattanooga.

He played five seasons (1967-71) in Cleveland – where his father had played in 1941 – then joined the New York Giants for seven seasons. He retired after spending the 1979 season back in Cleveland.

In 2012, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer newspaper ranked Gregory No. 70 on a list of the 100 best Browns players.

"Listed at 6-foot-5, 250, Gregory had exceptional speed for his position," the newspaper noted. "And, he could overpower opponents. The combination would make him one of the NFL's premier pass rushers for a decade. He also played tough against the run."

He’s unofficially credited with 103 career sacks – most notably one against the Jets’ Joe Namath in ABC’s first “Monday Night Football” game, a 31-21 win by the Browns that was nationally televised on Sept. 21, 1970.

Gregory was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

A celebration of Gregory’s life is scheduled for the Okolona Presbyterian Church on Monday at 1 p.m. Visitation will continue Sunday at the Holland Funeral Directors-Okolona Chapel.

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