IRVING, Texas -- Some teams snickered when the Dallas Cowboys took Randy Gregory in the second round last year despite testing positive at the NFL scouting combine for marijuana and other off-field issues.
Those snickers turned into told-you-sos when Gregory was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He failed three tests to land the penalty, per the terms of the policy.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he does not regret selecting Gregory.
“I don’t think we misjudged it,” Jones said. “We simply felt that where we drafted him, took into our consideration our judgment where he was and the challenge he had. That was factored in. It was factored in by the league. We wanted him. We just thought if he could do everything asked of him, he would be a great asset to the team, to the Cowboys, to the fans, everybody involved. We made a judgment. There might have been other teams that would have made that judgment the next pick or the next four picks. ... If he had not had this issue, he would have gone in the top of the first by most accounts.”
Gregory will be allowed to work out with the team through the offseason and training camp as well as play in the preseason games. Once the regular season starts, he will be able to work out at the team’s facility but not at practice.
Jones used the words “disappointed,” and “embarrassed,” in discussing the suspension, but he pledged the franchise will continue to support Gregory in the attempt to get clean. Last year the Cowboys had a staffer with Gregory at most times after Gregory and his agent agreed he needed added supervision to deal with what he has called anxiety issues.
“Anybody who has had any type of substance treatment knows that Rome was not built in a day,” Jones said. “That's not being too tolerant. That's being patient. He just happens to have a job that has zero tolerance at some point for any ingestion of substance. He has got to work with a complete understanding that, at some point, there are consequences. Even if you're making improvement, there can be consequences. That is what he is suffering from and consequently our team is suffering. As much as anything, he's got to see that he hurts a lot of people when he doesn't really adhere to the program.”
The Cowboys already had major offseason needs at defensive end, and Gregory’s four-game absence just makes them more acute. Jones said the Cowboys will not be major players in free agency, which is something executive vice president Stephen Jones has said as well.
“I think we will have to join 31 other teams that are out here that are trying to really address pressure,” Jerry Jones said. “Wade Phillips has shown just how big that is to winning a championship. And congratulations to him. We are proud for him. We are very aware, and certainly not having [Gregory] for the first four games, is a bigger challenge for us to a put a team on the field. So that’s the whole point, it puts us more in a bind.”