EDMOND — Jersey number 71 is off limits for Edmond North football players from now until eternity.
The school honored 1995 graduate Kelly Gregg during a halftime ceremony that included a jersey retirement at Tuesday's boys basketball game against Mustang.
Gregg stood all smiles at midcourt flanked by several of his old coaches as the jersey was unveiled in a shadow box that will hang at Edmond North.
“They said they'd like to do it for me,” Gregg said. “I told them not to go through no trouble, but it's a very nice gesture.
“I've been very blessed and lucky.”
Gregg hasn't announced it yet, but he plans to retire after a long NFL career. He spent 11 seasons as a defensive lineman with the Baltimore Ravens. Gregg played his last year with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It was nice to play closer to home,” Gregg said of last season. “I probably spent more on tickets this year than I ever did in Baltimore because it was so close and people were coming up.”
Gregg was on Edmond Memorial's state semifinal team as a sophomore in 1992, and on the Bulldogs' runner-up team as a junior in 1993. But he switched to North for his senior year because of the district's split.
Paul Potter, who was head coach at Edmond Memorial, was among the coaches in attendance.
“He played two years for us at Memorial, and he was a star, but he was blue collar,” Potter said.
“His career in the NFL does not surprise me that he lasted. You can say he's undersized for the NFL, but he's got that toughness.”
Gregg, who played in the NFL at 6-foot and 300 pounds, faced criticism about his size out of high school, but went on to star at Oklahoma. Then out of OU, the same questions were raised again. Gregg was selected in the sixth round of the 1999 draft by Cincinnati, but he never played for the Bengals. He would play three games that season for Philadelphia, before going on to a long career with Baltimore.
Gregg played in 153 games and started 138 of those.
“Anybody that ever doubted him, the best thing that could happen was him finding out,” said Rick Bollenbach, who was Gregg's high school wrestling coach and seventh-grade football coach. “He loved proving people wrong.
“It was great to watch him be successful and continue to prove people wrong throughout his career.”
Now, Gregg plans to raise his three boys — 9-year old Wyatt, 8-year old Ryder and 4-year old Max — in Edmond.
“I can't think of a better place to raise my family than right here in Edmond,” he said.
Potter said: “If I was a football coach and was gonna have a long career in Edmond, I'd make sure he was in my district,” because of his sons.