It’s hard to feel bad for former Nebraska Cornhusker and current Dallas Cowboy Randy Gregory. His recent actions are nothing new and they may end his NFL career sooner rather than later.
Last Friday, the NFL passed down a four-game suspension for Gregory’s violation of the league’s substance abuse policy after failing three tests. The second-year player will miss the first four games of the 2016 season after playing in just 12 in an injury-plagued rookie campaign.
The Cowboy brass knew they were taking a risk with pick No. 60 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory made it clear to any team that drafted him that he would require a handler to be with him at all times according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. As any Dallas fan knows there was precedent set for this when Dez Bryant came to the Star City.
Unfortunately, Gregory didn’t register the rookie season Dallas thought he might, recording zero sacks in those 12 games. A high-ankle sprain in the season opener caused him to miss four games.
Perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets during Gregory’s time spent at Nebraska during head coach Bo Pelini’s tenure was that he was one the coach’s favorites and received preferential treatment as a result. A lack of discipline eventually led to a lack of compassion by the higher-ups. Gregory tested positive for marijuana twice in Lincoln, once in January 2014 and again just a few months later in April.
Any control that could’ve been instilled by Pelini himself may have given Gregory reason to reform. According to an NFL.com report, Gregory said Nebraska officials told him he would be kicked off the team if he were to fail a third test. Theoretically, even if he knew he was going to get caught, he could fail the two tests and once told, “one more strike and you’re out,” could then start keeping track of dates and planning for them.
This habit remained as he failed three tests with the Cowboys, which earned him his new suspension. The key question is what’s going to happen when he comes back? Will he have learned anything or will it be back to the status quo despite having advanced warning and a handler that can straight up tell him when the testing dates are?
If that’s the case, he becomes a liability. There’s no point in spending time and resources on a player that simply won’t comply with basic rules even after his own requests have been met.
According to ESPN, Gregory could lose $370,000 guaranteed and $143,000 of his $608,406 base salary. That’s money Dallas could use on an upcoming rookie or free agent with no red flags and a clean record. At this rate, he’s already becoming damaged goods. Even if Dallas did release him, Gregory would likely get picked up, but the failed drug tests probably follow.
Gregory can own up to his failures as he did at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, but saying “I’m sorry” isn’t going to keep him in the league very long.
He was done no favors when given leniency by his head coach at Nebraska and flat out ignoring test dates as a result of that indifference. Now it appears a learned tendency and if his legacy continues to be “the guy who fails drug tests,” he’ll be chewed up and spit out by the NFL faster than a stick of Juicy Fruit.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)