GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg says that while he and his neurologist blame concussions for his Parkinson's disease, he's not going to sue the NFL like thousands of other former players.
The 79-year-old says he doesn't begrudge those who have joined the lawsuits but he has his pensions from his playing and coaching days and "I don't need anything from anybody but what I earned."
He said he's an "independent type" and doesn't believe in holding others accountable for his well-being.
"And my experience in the National Football League was good," said Gregg, who is promoting UCB, Inc.'s "Parkinson's More Than Motion" campaign during Parkinson's Awareness Month.
Gregg said he's doing well 18 months after his diagnosis and credits medicine, exercise and daily phone calls from his son and former teammates to reminisce about the good ol' days, which keeps his mind sharp.
The former offensive lineman known as "Iron Man" said he wants to help others recognize the signs of Parkinson's and seek treatment early enough to delay the degenerative effects of the chronic, debilitating disease on both mind and body.
When Gregg was diagnosed, his neurologist, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a Parkinson's expert and medical director of the Colorado Neurological Institute's Movement Disorders Center in Denver, said the many concussions Gregg suffered during his playing days may have served as a trigger for Parkinson's.
More than two dozen Hall of Famers are among the 4,200 former players who contend the league misled them about the harmful effects of concussions.
In recent years, scores of former NFL players and other concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, including popular Pro Bowler Junior Seau and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling. Both committed suicide last year.
About one-third of the league's 12,000 former players have joined the litigation since Easterling filed suit in 2011. Some are battling dementia, depression or Alzheimer's disease, and fault the league for rushing them back on the field after concussions. Others are worried about future problems and want their health monitored.
"I have been asked to join these lawsuits and my gut feeling, first thought is no," Gregg said. "I've always been an independent type, I never believed in somebody else being responsible for my life and for my well-being."
Gregg praised the NFL for its crackdown on illegal hits and enhanced protocol on concussions and said he applauds Roger Goodell for saying his top priority as commissioner is reducing head trauma in the game even though it's changing the sport that he played and coached.
At the owners meetings last month, the NFL barred ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field and also eliminated the peel-back block everywhere on the field.
The Greggs are sharing their story through a reality-style video series that is part of "Parkinson's More than Motion" Facebook community and follows the couple as they cope with the disease and its treatment.
-- The Associated Press