Height: 6-4; Weight: 270
College: Arkansas, 1973-76
The offensive line is pro football's foxhole. It's where many who have played there over time – if not almost all – yearn the respect of their teammates more than all-pro laurels. They prefer to earn their spurs in the trenches rather than seek fame through headlines.
That was pretty much the story of Greg Koch's career. In nine years with the Packers, where he missed only two games and started all but four after his rookie year, Koch was never chosen for the Pro Bowl or named to an all-pro team. The closest he came was in 1982 when he was chosen second team by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. But Koch had the abiding respect of most of the players and coaches who counted on him the most.
"Not many people had more pride than Greg Koch," Lynn Dickey, the Packers' starting quarterback for most of Koch's career, said more than 30 years after they last played together. "I loved him because he thought he was really good. He didn't care who it was. It could have been the biggest name in the game and if he went up against him, he wanted to fight. He wanted to be the best. I think it bugged him a little that other tackles around the league were getting more notoriety and it probably had a lot to do with us being 8-8 every year for a long time."
"A lot of offensive linemen block by getting in the way, basically just keeping themselves between the defender and the ball carrier," said former teammate Larry McCarren. "Greg Koch paved the way. The man was born to drive block. Strong, athletic … he'd rip off the ball, ram his head right into the defender's numbers and knock him off the line of scrimmage. He could single-handedly punch a hole in a defense, and he did it consistently. You see a lot of grabbing on and wrestling in today's game, but with Greg, it was all about hitting folks. When it came to pass protection, he had to temper that aggression but even when making the transition from bruiser to technician he'd still find a way to get the last shove in. Greg made second-team all-pro after one season. He should have been a regular honoree, not to mention a perennial Pro Bowler."
Bob Schnelker, offensive coordinator of the Packers from 1982-85, was another who considered Koch an all-pro caliber player without the ribbons to prove it. "Greg Koch is an outstanding tackle, one of the more consistent players I've seen in the league," Schnelker said in 1983. "He can handle anybody we ask him to handle."
Drafted in the second round in 1977, Koch backed up veteran right tackle Dick Himes that season and started only three games, two when Himes was hurt and one when left tackle Mark Koncar was injured. A year later, Koch beat out Himes in training camp and held the right tackle position through 1985.
Comparably adept at run and pass blocking, Koch's biggest flaw might have been his over aggressiveness. "He's such a competitive person," Ernie McMillan, Packers line coach from 1978-83, once said. "But the way they play defenses now, it's not a bull in a china shop game anymore." That said, when Koch played under control, McMillan added, "he'll buckle their knees for you." Although Koch was nifty enough on his feet to pull and block in space, his strength was his biggest asset. At one point in his career, he bench-pressed 520 pounds.
Koch's most memorable performance was the 1983, 48-47 Monday night victory over defending Super Bowl champion Washington when he moved to right guard after 81 starts at right tackle and more than held his own against Dave Butz, the 6-foot-7, 295-pound tackle who anchored Washington's defense. "He'd do anything to win, including giving up his position," assistant offensive line coach Bill Meyers said after the game. "Here he's trying to make all-pro at tackle and he comes inside to play, and he plays like an all-pro guard."
Never shy about speaking his mind, Koch didn't endear himself to every teammate and coach. He also walked out of camp for 16 days before the 1985 season over differences with new offensive line coach Jerry Wampfler. While Koch started 16 games that season and played well, he was cut on Aug. 4, 1986. A week later, he signed with Miami and started 16 games there. After a lengthy holdout in 1987, Koch signed and started one game for the Dolphins before being traded to Minnesota, where he ended his career starting at right guard in the NFC championship.
In all, Koch played in 133 games for the Packers and started 120.
Born June 14, 1955. Given name Gregory Michael Koch.
-- Cliff Christl