Second Chances at Valley Ranch
One of the problems with the Dallas Cowboys’ “Second Chance At Valley Ranch’’ policy is that Jerry Jones and company seem to harbor the belief that they possess some “special sauce’’ that can cure the ills of the wayward. But, in fact, the Cowboys have the same tools to “fix’’ players as the other 31 NFL franchises have at their disposal. Oh, and the same moral compass, too.
And by the way, that goes for all the other teams in town and all the other franchises in sports, too. Same tools. Same compasses.
Last week I asked Jerry about Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory’s state of mind and body, who has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy – a problem Dallas knew about a year ago when it selected the Nebraska star in the second round of the NFL Draft.
“Randy Gregory had the highest SAT score we have on record (among players) we’ve signed,’’ Jones responded. “I enjoy my conversations with him. He’s clever, he’s great to visit with, just a pleasure…we don’t have to worry about that part (intelligence.) He understands.’’
What the Cowboys do have to worry about is Gregory himself. Gregory was in attendance at the team’s annual golf event last Wednesday at Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, a showing that pleasantly surprised his bosses, He was in good spirits and cooperative in dealing with team sponsors and with Jerry, Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett.
They support him. Which is nice.
“It is a big step for him to be out here interacting, a big smile on his face and meeting people,” Stephen said. “This is good for him, and I appreciate him being out here.”
Gregory looked like he might have added some weight-room weight to his slim frame. Now he needs to add some maturity…and to accept the guidance the Cowboys are attempting to provide as he battled what Jerry frankly termed “an addiction.”
“(We) pray for him and want him to have the kind of career his gifts will allow,” Jerry said. “He’s an exceptional, exceptional football player – probably was the top rusher of the last two drafts, that’s just my opinion. We need him.”
Are the Cowboys wrong to give Gregory multiple chances? Is there something wrong with their system, given that Gregory isn’t thriving, and other troubled souls like Joe Randle and Greg Hardy didn’t thrive here, either? Or are there success stories that are part of the Cowboys program that we are less aware of and therefore less able to grant credit for?
Oh, and while we’re asking these questions let me just throw this into the mix: Gregory may have not been “the top rusher of the last two drafts.’’ He may have not have posted “the highest SAT score we have on record,’’ either. All of that may be Jerry hyperbole married with the hyper-focus we all have on the Cowboys.
Think about it. When the Dallas Mavericks sign a troubled guy, say, Delonte West, they get credit for attempting to rehab him. When the Texas Rangers do the same for a Josh Hamilton or a Matt Bush (Bush’s issues, of course, go well beyond smoking pot), they get credit as well.
In the end, the Cowboys, Mavs, Rangers and every other team wants exactly the same thing – A rehabbed star. Not because they want to do him a favor, but because they hope he can do the franchise a favor.