Dallas Cowboys: Will Randy Gregory be reinstated this season?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 23: Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys recovers a fumble against Bobo Wilson #85 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 23: Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys recovers a fumble against Bobo Wilson #85 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboy Randy Gregory has been suspended since January 2018.  Despite early optimism, there has been little visible progress towards reinstatement.

Randy who? I’m sure that’s what many Dallas Cowboys fans are thinking upon seeing this headline. The play of former Miami Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn has made many of the Dallas faithful forget about the team’s second-best defensive lineman from last year, scoring six sacks over the season.

For those of you stuck with brain-freeze, let me update you on the saga of Randy Gregory. Gregory was a highly regarded defensive end coming out of the University of Nebraska in 2015. Having made 114 tackles and 17.5 sacks in his last two seasons of college football and exhibiting top-shelf athleticism, Gregory was originally projected to be drafted as a high first-round selection in that year’s draft.

Then, he failed a drug test for marijuana, and his stock tumbled. In a typical Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) type gamble, the Cowboys drafted Gregory in the second round of that year’s draft anyway. Gregory’s first season as a Cowboy was marred by a high ankle injury, and he didn’t record his first tackle until Week 10.

In his first offseason as an NFL player, Gregory failed another drug screening. It would be the first of many in his professional career. Gregory was initially suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, but then he failed his second drug test. Boom! He was off the team.

Somehow, however, Gregory was activated for the Week 16 game against the Detroit Lions.  He made his first NFL sack, adding a tackle for loss and seven tackles besides. This was the first time that fans had an opportunity to see what a healthy and active Gregory could do on the field.

Nevertheless, having failed so many drug tests, the explosive defensive end was banished for the entirety of the 2017 season. Many thought that would be it for Randy Gregory. He’d failed multiple drug tests in a row, and hardly seen the field in his first three NFL-eligible seasons. Time to write him off.

But Gregory didn’t write himself off, and neither did his lawyer, Daniel Moskowitz, who defended the talented lineman in the press and helped him get back on track. Gregory checked into a rehab facility and worked out all year long.

To the surprise of many, the NFL decided to give Gregory another chance shortly before the 2018 season. Though rusty at first, Gregory played better as the season progressed, and eventually became the starter at defensive end opposite Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Finishing the season with six sacks, Gregory was a vital part of the Cowboys killer defense last year, one of the best defensive units in the league.

Gregory was starting to look like one of those redemption stories that people love about sports. But then, during the offseason, news came out that Gregory had relapsed once again and was indefinitely suspended by the league office. Dallas wasted little time mooning over Gregory, and promptly traded for Robert Quinn, who has tallied five sacks in his first four games.

But Gregory’s story wasn’t over yet. Before this season began, there were rumblings that the NFL had decided to become more lenient in their policy towards marijuana, and that a new reinstatement request by Gregory might be viewed favorably.

There have even been shadowy reports that the NFL might be open to removing weed from the banned substance list in negotiations for a new contract with the NFLPA in the offseason. In the glow of all this fairy dust, some speculated that Gregory would be back with the team early in the season, possibly by week one.

Obviously, these were rose-colored hopes. What’s interesting though, is the mystery of what’s happened with Gregory’s reinstatement request. On July 12, Mike Fisher broke the story that Gregory’s team would be submitting their petition for reinstatement just a few days later, on July 15.

As Fisher explained in a recent story, if that had happened, the NFL should have made a ruling within 60 days. But they didn’t. And no one is explaining why. Gregory’s not talking, and neither are his lawyer, the NFL, or the Cowboys. The whole thing seems a little like a whodunit. (Might it have been Colonel Mustard in the billiards room with a candlestick?)

So what happened? Did Gregory’s team balk at submitting the paperwork? Did the player himself fall off the wagon once again? Did they simply delay submittal for some unknown reason? Once again, no one knows.

The possibilities going forward are the following:

1. Randy Gregory’s career is really and truly finally over.

2. There was just a bump in the road, and he’ll be reinstated before the end of the season.

3. During the offseason, the NFL will decide to lift the marijuana ban, in light of society’s changing attitudes, and we’ll see Mr. Gregory back in a Cowboys uniform in 2020. Or they won’t, but reinstate him by next season anyway.

As of now, these are all just guesses. Personally, I would love to see Randy Gregory get another shot. At his best, Gregory is an exciting game-changing player. Besides, who doesn’t love redemption stories? Even with Robert Quinn, adding Gregory to the team would still be an improvement over the other backups.

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Once again, we’ll have to wait to find out. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, Football is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. What sort of chocolate awaits Cowboys fans with Randy Gregory?  We’ll just have to wait until the box opens.