Atlanta Falcons Should Still Consider Randy Gregory

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Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory (4) looks on before the game against the USC Trojans in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Why Not?

First off, plenty of players come with off-the-field baggage. Nobody is perfect, people make mistakes. Some have committed crimes, like shoplifting or DUI. Others have issues with authority or coaches, or are simply difficult to deal with and are a “locker room cancer”. Some, like Gregory, struggle with substance abuse (generally alcohol or cannabis).

Let me make it clear that I am not giving Gregory a pass for failing the drug test. Whether or not you or I agree with the state of cannabis or its legality in the U.S., it is a banned substance in the NFL and the players need to put their career first by making sure they don’t get suspended by failing drug tests.

In that same vein, however, many NFL players are rumored to smoke cannabis, but they are able to control themselves enough to make sure they don’t fail a drug test. That’s all that Gregory needs to do to avoid getting suspended. I could care less if he smokes or not as long as it doesn’t impact the product on the field.

But let me ask you something: which is the greater crime, domestic violence and sexual assault, or someone smoking pot?

Because there is a player that could be drafted #1 overall that has been accused (guilty or not) of the former. That player was also arrested for shoplifting crab legs. But is that player tumbling down draft boards due to off-the-field concerns? No.

Meanwhile, the player that smoked some pot is now “falling out of the first round” according to some.

Is anyone really claiming that cannabis use is worse than domestic violence and sexual assault, or even shoplifting? If you followed the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case last year versus the year-long suspension of Josh Gordon for a failed drug test, you could be forgiven for thinking that way. That is what people are implying by having no problem with drafting Jameis Winston while dropping their grade on Randy Gregory.

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These are the same people that were clamoring for the Falcons to sign Greg Hardy, while now saying that Randy Gregory is “not worth the risk”. It’s just ridiculous.

Sure, there are risks with both. I’m not denying that. All I’m saying is that I’d rather have someone on my team who failed a drug test than someone who was convicted of domestic violence but got off because the victim “failed to make herself available to the prosecution.”

In a few years, we may not even be worried about cannabis use in the NFL, or even in the US. The NFLPA recently increased the threshold for a positive test (made it more difficult to fail), and all signs point to trying to get cannabis thrown out of the substances of abuse program in the future.

Several states have legalized recreational use, and just a few days ago even Georgia legalized medical use of cannabis. The times are changing, and they’re changing quickly.

In the meantime, though, players still have to avoid failing tests. Let’s take a look at two players, both stars at their respective positions, who had concerns with drug use coming into the draft.

Next: Is Gregory Justin Houston, or Josh Gordon?