FRISCO - Last winter, we broke the story in this space that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had, in a staff meeting here inside The Star, confronted head coach Mike McCarthy about why Randy Gregory - maybe the defense's most productive player - was so limited in his participation.
And now Gregory himself is speaking out on the same subject.
“I felt there was a little bit of favoritism going on … refusing to let me outshine their favorite,” the pass-rusher says in a lengthy visit with The Athletic. “They knew I could do it, so they did what they could to keep me at bay. I had my times when I was angry.''
"I truly felt I got robbed of a year last year.''
Gregory sat out the first six games of the 2020 season due to suspension, but then became a force - on the rare occasions when McCarthy and defensive bosses Mike Nolan and Jim Tomsula allowed him to play.
McCarthy has since offered what are frankly lame explanations for the decision. Gregory is offering a more sensible angle: Aldon Smith was a pet of the staff.
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In fairness, Smith experienced a hot start to the season, with four sacks in the first three games. But sources tell CowboysSI.com that Smith's behavioral issues started re-emerging right about Thanksgiving, reason enough to open up opportunities for Gregory.
The coaching staff, including since-fired Nolan and Tomsula, refused to do that.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn says he "was surprised (Gregory) didn’t play more,” and plans to rectify that in 2021, which figures to be the first full season for Gregory despite the fact that he'll turn 29 in November.
"I think,'' Quinn says, "he’s going to really take off.”
Of course, first, now that Gregory is fully eligible, somebody on the Dallas coaching staff needs to be bright enough to actually play him.
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