Defensive End Randy Gregory has had a rocky road in the NFL, to say the least. After being drafted in the second round in 2015, Gregory has dealt with several suspensions due to failed drug test under the league's old substance-abuse policy. However, the NFL's new CBA, which was approved in March, eliminated any suspensions for marijuana use.
After missing the entire 2019 season, Gregory was conditionally reinstated on September 4. Now that he's been given another chance to resume his career, Gregory isn't taking it for granted.
“I'm very grateful, happy to be back here doing the things I love being around the teammates and coaching staff I have,” Gregory said, via the team's website. “My parents and family being able to go to the games and watch me play and just, you know, kind of rebuilding my reputation or whatever it is now. I'm just real grateful, I really am. It's honestly an honor to be on this team and still be valued in this league.”
While he was away from the NFL last year, Gregory worked at an Amazon warehouse making $15.50 an hour doing inventory and loading trucks. It would've been easy for him to get off track in his quest to make it back to the league, but Gregory never lost his focus, and he's proud that he didn't.
“I would say, just the fact that I never gave up,” Gregory said after Wednesday's practice. “I've had times where I've doubted myself, I've had times where I wondered what life would be like without football. But the biggest thing for me, the biggest thing I'm most proud of is that I never gave up.”
It's no secret that Gregory has dealt with anxiety and depression. So with that being said, no guarantees can be made about how Gregory's new opportunity will pan out. It's a battle that Gregory fights daily.
“It's a day-to-day thing,” Gregory said. “It's something I'm constantly working on and trying to better myself not only for the sake of my career but my personal life, for my family. So it's something I have under wraps right now. Very proud of myself, proud of the individuals who helped me get here, and I just take it one day at a time.''
The last time Gregory played a significant amount of snaps was in 2018 and he was quite productive. In 14 games, he registered 25 tackles (seven for loss), six sacks (second on the team), 15 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. After knocking the rust off in his first few games this season, he racked up two sacks against the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving.
Gregory had this to say about his seven-game sample size in 2020.
“I think overall, I've had a pretty solid comeback,” Gregory said. “Obviously it came midway through the season, so I'm still even at this point kind of getting my feet under me. But I'm just continuing to get better in practice and hopefully putting that out on the field on game day.”
There have been plenty of people that have helped Gregory in his return to the gridiron. Dr. Dina Hijazi, a Dallas-based psychologist, is someone he thanks for his progress. Of course, there's the Jones family, who've stuck by him since he entered the league in 2015.
Gregory had nothing but admiration when talking about the Jones's and what they've done for him.
“Jerry, Mr. Jones, the whole Jones family, they know how much they mean to me,” Gregory said. “I think at this point, I understand how much I mean to them.
“One of the things I appreciate the most about the Jones family is that they've been able to take away the business aspect of it and really focus on me as an individual, as a person. … Seeing them stick by my side and help in any way they could, when they could, just stick this thing out with me, has been real big.
“I can't say enough about them.”
Gregory's turnaround is to be commended and the hope is that it continues.