Cowboys Gregory: The Trio Set To Help Him

IRVING - Charles Haley has been there. Leon Lett has been there. Michael Irvin has been there. And now all three ex-Cowboys will be there for rookie pass-rusher Randy Gregory, who is dealing with issues that go beyond marijuana use. The story from inside Valley Ranch:

During his introductory conference call with DFW media on Friday after becoming the Dallas Cowboys' pick at No. 60 in the second round of the NFL Draft, explosive Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory was asked if the off-field problems he's dealt with are the result of a struggle with depression or bipolar disorder.

“Not anything like that,” he said. “I think I have the same kind of anxiety that a lot of guys in my position have.''

HIPPA laws prevent his new employer from being specific about Gregory's issues. But sources tell that Gregory does deal with an "emotional disorder'' and that his dealings with marijuana use are in a sense a "mask'' for his deeper struggles.

Conveniently for Gregory, there is a collegiate atmosphere inside the Cowboys family, led by Michael Irvin ... and that alumni group includes "big brothers'' uniquely qualified to guide Gregory.


Irvin's behavior is almost as legendary as his on-field brilliance. He reached out to Gregory immediately, offering to mentor him. Haley, like Irvin a Hall-of-Famer, has dealt with bipolar disorder his entire life and visited with Gregory even before the top-10 talent slipped to the Cowboys. And Lett once served a drug suspension while a member of the Cowboys while at the same time dealing with anxiety so severe that he couldn't conduct media interviews without breaking into a flop sweat.

"I've been there,'' Lett tells me. "I've been that guy, like Randy is. I think I can help him.''

Lett, who endured his troubles to forge a 10-year NFL career, is now Gregory's position coach. He'll supervise the position room that also houses controversial free-agent defensive end Greg Hardy ... and yes, Lett will have his hands full. But he'll have help, from occasional Valley Ranch visitors Irvin and Haley, and from the organization, all the way to the top. Owner Jerry Jones will be part of the support system, too, as he has been for so many Cowboys.

“It’s a lot of different things,'' Gregory says of the structure he says he requested be offered him during his pre-Draft visit to Dallas. "I definitely will be working with Jerry Jones and the rest of the staff. It was something I mentioned and something I felt like I needed. It kind of worked out because they felt the same way about it.”

It's already been written that Gregory will be controlled by something akin to "The Dez Rules.'' That's lazy and false. The Cowboys never created "Dez Rules'' and were not involved in their enforcement. It's also lazy to suggest that this team is now a halfway house for miscreants ... though that will certainly be the meme and I know I'm fighting uphill to try to look deeper at how each individual is different, how Dez isn't Hardy and Hardy isn't Josh Brent and Brent isn't Ro MClain and McClain isn't Gregory ...

But Gregory is now entered into league’s substance abuse program, the result of having tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Gregory said he's struggled with marijuana use for years. ... but at Nebraska, he also struggled with being a responsible teammate. All of that is included in the reason Dallas considered him at 27 but passed (in favor of cornerback Byron Jones) and the reason it will take efforts from the alumni, the coaching staff, teammates and ownership to make this work.

“I think he’s a good person,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said. “He has great football character. … I believe in the young man.”


If all the dominoes fall right for Dallas, Hardy starts at weakside end with Demarcus Lawrence at strongside and 2014 sack leader Jeremy Mincey behind them -- impressive enough. Gregory, light at 240 but with some traits that remind scouts of Haley, will play the weakside ... and will benefit from being put in specific positions to succeed by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

“I know I made a mistake,'' Gregory said. "I know there is only so much I can say; talk is cheap sometimes. I really want to show these guys what I can do and I am really serious about what I say. I gave that staff my word plenty of times and I really feel like they believe me. I can’t wait to show them.”

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