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Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg fighting Parkinson's disease

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Forrest Gregg, who earned the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in a then-record 188 consecutive NFL games during his Hall of Fame career, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Although the cause of the debilitating neurological disorder is unknown, Gregg, his family and his neurologist said his disease may be related to numerous concussions he suffered during his playing career in the 1950s at SMU and from 1956 to 1971 with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.

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.

"I'd like to stop it there if I could," he told the AP in an interview.

There is no cure for Parkinson's, but a combination of drugs, exercise and physical therapy can delay the devastating effects of the disease that strikes more than 50,000 Americans every year.

The former offensive lineman, who was a six-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl selection, said he wanted to go public with his diagnosis to promote understanding of the disease and push for more research. He said he hopes to help others recognize the signs of Parkinson's and seek treatment early enough to delay the degenerative effects of the disease on both mind and body.

"I don't pretend to say that I'm important to the scheme of things in the whole world, but I can do something and help along people who have this disease," Gregg said. "So, I'm kind of just saying that I have it, I want to do something about it, and I think I found the right people to help me along the line."

Gregg beat melanoma in 1976 and colon cancer in 2001.

"This is not my first experience with a life-threatening disease," he said. "So, I've got another battle to fight."

A guard and tackle, Gregg is one of three NFL players to win a-half dozen NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls with the Packers. Gregg finished his career with another Super Bowl title with the Cowboys in 1971.

He went on to coach the Bengals, Browns and Packers, compiling a record of 75-85-1. He led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl after the 1981 season, where the Bengals lost to San Francisco, 26-21, on Joe Montana's last-minute comeback.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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