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Gregory Earns Unique 'Leadership Council' Honor From Cowboys

"I wasn't really expecting that ("leadership council'' appointment), but I think that it says a lot about my journey as far as my growth," Gregory said.

The football part has never been that hard for Randy Gregory. But he does want to pause in this Dallas Cowboys training camp, for just a moment, to make an observation about himself.

"I want to give myself a pat on the back,'' the defensive end says modestly. "I really feel like I deserve it and I've worked hard to get to this point. From this point on I've just got to put some good play on the field and stay out of trouble, which I'm trying to do, and be the guy that everyone expects me to be and I expect myself to be."

"It'' is about not only the acclaim the talented 28-year-old pass-rusher is earning in camp, with some observers telling us he's on the verge of true stardom. It's also about the "stay-out-of-trouble'' part, with Gregory's life headed now in such a positive direction that he's been named to the team's players' leadership council.

"It's a huge statement," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We all have history. So you have a starting point and based on our starting point to where he is today, he's made a huge leap. But I really think it's just the beginning."

The leadership council, for the Cowboys, is Jason Witten-level stuff. Sean Lee-level stuff. Dak Prescott-level stuff. Tyron Smith-level stuff. Gregory hasn't yet matched the on-field accomplishments of Cowboys big-shots like that; due to behavioral suspensions, he's played only 26 games here since joining the Cowboys as a 2015 second-round pick.

But his accomplishments, different as they are, are just as grand.

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"I wasn't really expecting that ("leadership council'' appointment), but I think that it says a lot about my journey as far as my growth," Gregory said. "I think five years ago, this would never even be a conversation. I didn't have any sort of leadership skills and even right now I'm still working on that.''

There is another day to talk about money (he's in a contract year) and maybe even another say to talk about football (he's been as fine a performer as anybody in this camp). The "leadership council''? Really?

"Look, I still have a lot to prove," Gregory said, meaning regarding on-field stuff. "I still feel like I still haven't really, truly arrived. There's a lot for me to do.''

Yes. As a football player. But now, too, as a leader.