EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jack Gregory, a standout defensive end for the Giants for seven seasons in the 1970s, passed away Saturday in Monroe Country, Mississippi. He was 74.
Gregory played in 96 games for the Giants from 1972-78. He was credited with 75.5 sacks with the team, though sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982. In his first season with the Giants, Gregory led the NFL with 21.0 sacks, was selected to the Pro Bowl, and was named All-NFL by United Press International and the Pro Football Writers. He had 15 sacks in 1975.
Gregory's father, Earl Jackson "Jack" Gregory, played seven games for the Cleveland Browns in 1941.
A Mississippi native, Gregory graduated in 1962 from Okolona High School, where he was an all-conference athlete in football, track and basketball.
Gregory, who was known as "Big Jack," played his first three seasons of collegiate football at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he was an honorable mention All-America tight end. Although drafted his junior year, he transferred to Delta State University where he graduated and set a school record with 557 receiving yards as a tight end and also played defensive end.
Gregory played four seasons for the Browns before the Giants sent their 1973 first-round draft choice to Cleveland to obtain Gregory. After his Giants tenure, Gregory played a final season with the Browns.
He is 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 Browns win on Sept. 21, 1970.
Gregory was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
After retirement, Gregory returned to Mississippi, where he was a farmer, businessman, philanthropist and Chief Executive Officer of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.
Gregory is survived by his wife, Susan Brooks Gregory of Okolona, whom he married Aug. 7, 2000; his son E. J. Gregory, III and his wife Charla of Oxford; a daughter, Madison Brook Gregory of Canton; two stepchildren, Michael Carter (Brandy) of Wren and Amanda Hicklin (Eric). His grandchildren: Riley, Sydni, Thomas, Lucas and Ayden. His only brother, Judge John Andrew Gregory (Claire) of Okolona, and his family, and thousands of friends across Mississippi and around the country. He was preceded in death by his parents and first wife, Gwen Massey Gregory.
Memorials may be made to Okolona Presbyterian Church, 118 Robertson St., Okolona, MS. 38860; Tupelo Lee Humane Society, P. O. Box 2143, Tupelo, MS. 38801; or to Wags, 1317 Old Hwy 6, Amory, MS. 38821. Condolences may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
A service celebrating his life was held today at the Okolona Presbyterian Church.