Source: After lengthy meeting, Randy Gregory's NFL reinstatement is 'in Roger's hands'

NFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

FRISCO, Texas – In what stands as his biggest stride toward potential NFL reinstatement, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory met face-to-face with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday.

Roger Goodell presented with Randy Gregory’s rehab journey

According to a league source briefed on the meeting with Goodell, Gregory’s reinstatement application included furnishing results from an intensively documented six-month rehabilitation regimen that would typically cost upward of $250,000. The source said Gregory’s documentation included daily drug testing, counseling and an intensive two-month inpatient treatment program that provided an initial push for Gregory’s trek back to the NFL.

“It’s been eight months getting to this point,” the source said of Gregory’s reinstatement application. “I think the light came on several months ago for Randy that this is it. This is probably his last chance to get this right.”

According to the source briefed on the application, Gregory’s representatives provided the NFL with “five to six boxes” of information and letters from counselors and others who have supported Gregory’s effort – most notably, six straight months of daily drug tests Gregory has passed dating back to December 2017. The presentation also included a plan outlining a structure that would keep Gregory on track if he were to be reinstated to the league, and the source added that he’s expected to begin football-specific training with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Greg Townsend in the coming weeks.

The Dallas Cowboys weren’t on hand for Tuesday’s meeting with Goodell, but the source said the team is being kept abreast of Gregory’s progress as well as any developments with the league.

Goodell meeting a good sign for Gregory

Whether the intensive pitch will be enough to sway Goodell to grant a reinstatement remains to be seen. But the fact that the commissioner took a face-to-face meeting with Gregory in New York could be seen as a positive sign – particularly considering it was pushed up to take place before the league’s summer lull, when most executives take time off prior to training camps opening in July.

That said, the source who spoke with Yahoo Sports urged caution that the meeting with Goodell is more of a “first step” with the league that begins a process of reinstatement – and not necessarily a capping moment that ends the process.

“It’s in Roger’s hands and it could take some time,” the source said of the commissioner. “Having Randy back with [the Cowboys] for training camp would be a great thing, but there’s really no timetable. That’s up to Roger.”

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his progress toward league reinstatement. (Wire image)
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his progress toward league reinstatement. (Wire image)

Josh Gordon went through similar process

Gregory’s reinstatement could ultimately depend on conditions laid out by the commissioner, who had multiple meetings over several years with Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon before finally conditionally reinstating him to the NFL in November 2017. But that came only after Goodell had denied Gordon’s reinstatement request six months earlier, stressing the need to see Gordon continue his commitment to sobriety and making more progress in his effort. Following that six months, Goodell met with Gordon again and granted his request for reinstatement. Given that previous precedent, it’s possible that Goodell will ask Gregory for another sustained period of progress before ultimately granting his return.

Dallas Cowboys playing the waiting game

For the Cowboys, Gregory’s availability is little more than a pipe dream until it actually materializes. His failure of multiple drug tests resulted in him missing the majority of the past two seasons, effectively rendering him back to square one from a developmental standpoint. He’s also arguably further behind than incoming rookies, who have been in the building working since April and who were also playing on a field competitively only months ago.

“I just think you try to find out where he is,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He has been here [in the past]. I think he understands how we want to do things. So it’s not like it’s a new guy who’s walking in the door. You use that history, but at the same time, you kind of get him caught up. You do make sure you emphasize the conditioning, the fundamentals, all the basic things of football that you really try to do with your team every year, and make sure whatever situation you put him in, he’s able to handle it physically.”

“I think the first [thing] with him, get him in a stance and get him going,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “He’s been off for a long time. He’s talented, no question. He’s a great guy and he’s smart. But the No. 1 thing we’ve got to do is just groove him back in, groove him back in before I start setting standards for him and goals. Let’s just get him in a stance, start teaching him the game of football. Because like I say, if you don’t play for three or four months – a year, it’s not the same, the timing. So I’m just excited to get a chance to work with him again.”

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