Throughout the offseason the Dallas Cowboys have expressed optimism about the return of pass-rusher Randy Gregory. Gregory was reinstated by the NFL in July after serving a yearlong suspension for violating the substance-abuse policy, and the Cowboys have maintained that they are not aware that he’ll be facing league discipline any time soon.
It appears that belief is mistaken. According to a report from ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, Gregory suffered a “relapse” during August, and may face discipline from the league as soon as next week.
Sources in Dallas thought the league would decide whether to discipline Gregory last week, before Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers, but the league still is studying the case and factoring in the steps that Gregory has taken over the past month since his setback.
More and more, in one of the interesting and quiet trends around the league, the NFL has become more tolerant when a player violates the drug policy. It has softened its stance on drug policy perpetrators. According to league sources, there have been examples this offseason of a player having a disputed test, with the league emphasizing treatment and support rather than discipline, which was one of the NFL Players Association’s goals when the policy was reconfigured in 2014.
Gregory has dealt with substance-abuse issues since before he even entered the NFL. A failed drug test at the NFL combine caused his stock to tumble and he went from being a potential top-five draft pick to being selected toward the tail end of the second round.
Gregory was injured during his first game with the Cowboys, and did not record a sack during his rookie campaign. He was then suspended for the first four games of his sophomore season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He then failed another test and was suspended for 10 additional games. While serving that suspension he failed a third test and faced a yearlong suspension, but was allowed to play while his appeal was being adjudicated. Eventually, he was suspended for the entire 2017 season.
Gregory was conditionally reinstated by the league in mid-July, and fully reinstated a week later. He has been back with the Cowboys during the preseason and has looked better this year than at any time during his NFL career. Getting suspended again would be yet another setback but a talented player who just cannot seem to stay on the field. Gregory is one of several Cowboys defenders who has been suspended over the past few years, and along with David Irving is a member of the team’s defensive line who has been suspended multiple times for substance-abuse violations.