Little known fact about Gregg Bingham is that he is the Houston Oilers career leading tackler with nearly 2,000 tackles. Surrounded by talent like Elvin Bethea, Robert Brazile and Curley Culp, during the Luv Ya’ Blue era of the 70s- it was easy for Bingham to be overlooked in the star studded defensive lineup, even if he led the league 11 straight seasons. Also tackles were an unofficial statistic for the league until the late 80s/ early 90s.
After toiling away his rookie season in a 4-3 at MLB in 1973, and earning all-rookie honors, Gregg slid over to LILB, as the Oilers converted to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Bum Phillips. Bingham had earned the nickname ‘Devil’ for his strong motor and style of play, and he punished ball carriers on every tackle. Bum Phillips was once quoted as saying that, “You’d have to cut off his head and hide it, in order to keep Bingham off the field.” He’d start the next 5 seasons for the team, recording 10 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries, returning one 34 yards for a TD. Gregg was also counted on by the team for special teams as well. The following season he switched to RILB, playing the position for the majority of the rest of his career. Considerably durable, Bingham would have challenged Bethea’s consecutive games started record if not for a hip injury suffered in 1982 at 135. He topped the 200 tackle mark 4 times and led the league in tackles consistently over his career.
An interesting character, Gregg made every penny count, investing into a series of coin operated car washes and oil changes around the Houston area. He even had the business foresight to have an assistant sort the change that came out of the machines for valuable coins.
Years later in 2008, Bingham’s heir at linebacker, John Grimsely committed suicide. It was later linked to CTE- caused by concussions. Gregg became a concussion flashpoint himself in 2009 when he was working in one of his car washes, and blacked out. When he next woke up, Bingham was in the hospital and learned he had been in a coma for the past 3 weeks, due to a swollen brain. It took him well over a year to rehab, but Gregg connected the dots to his time in the NFL and concussions, -something that at the time was to be ‘shaken off’. He later rejected an NFL concussion settlement, because it would have not covered his expenses.
He continues to live in the Houston area, and after failing on a request back in… 2012- he kindly signed two cards for me and tossed in a third.
G/Gs 173/173 TAC 1,985 SAC n/a FUM 14
INT 21 YDS 279 AVG 13.3 TD 0 LG 54