Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory will miss the first four games of the 2016 regular season. The Cowboys understandably aren’t happy.
“This is a disappointment,” Cowboys executive V.P. and COO Stephen Jones said about Gregory’s suspension, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We have been clear with Randy about what his responsibilities are and what is expected.”
Jones has a point, but the Cowboys knew what they were getting themselves into when they used a second-round pick on Gregory in April 2015. Gregory had failed a drug test at the Scouting Combine, the reddest of the red flags when it comes to recreational drug use. It shows that he has a problem, or that he was clueless about the fact that a drug test would occur at the Combine.
“I blame myself,” Gregory said before the draft. “And I know it sounds cliché, but there’s really no one else I can blame.”
There’s no one else he can blame but himself for however many violations occurred since he was drafted. But let’s be clear: A player doesn’t get a four-game suspension for only one failed drug test under the substance-abuse policy. For PEDs, it’s a one-strike, four-game banishment. For recreational drugs, it takes a lot more than one failed test.
Gregory consistently has failed to choose football over whatever substance for which he has been testing positive. But the Cowboys necessarily failed to provide him with the resources and assistance necessary to keep him from continuing to fail tests. And Gregory’s agents, who did a great job of puffing him up to a scoop-hungry media before the draft (at one point he was being sold as a top-10 pick despite the failed drug test), apparently haven’t communicated to Gregory the critical importance of getting clean.
The stakes only go up from here. Next is a 10-game suspension followed by at least one year out of the game. At some point, if he doesn’t choose football, there will no longer be a choice to make.