"Just 24 years old."
"A pass rusher with some good raw ability."
"Stage 3 substance abuse, the next violation gets him a year suspension."
"Selfish player who can't put down the pipe."
The player I just described was Von Miller, two years ago.
If you watched the Super Bowl, then you got a good dose of the type of havoc Miller was able to cause all season. Miller had 11 sacks in the regular season, and stepped it up even more in the playoffs. He had 2.5 sacks against Tom Brady and again against Cam Newton. Miller is a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro. He's the best pass rusher in the league who is not named J.J. Watt. He is a leader in the locker room of the Denver Broncos and will soon be a very rich man.
But things weren't always so rosy for the Broncos pass-rushing ace. His judgment has been poor on multiple occasions throughout his career. Here is his rap sheet:
- In 2012, he was arrested for failing to appear in court for a driving infraction.
- In 2013, he was arrested for trying to buy a gun when his background check showed he had a warrant (for not showing up in court in 2012).
- In 2013, he was suspended six games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He tried to appeal it, but it was upheld and it was discovered that he tried to cheat the drug test.
At that time, many Denver fans had seen enough and wanted no part of him. The kid clearly just didn't get it, so why put up with his nonsense. They might as well just get rid of him.
Man, what a mistake that would have been.
Things turned around for Miller. He worked hard, he bulked up, but most importantly - he got a new teammate that would help provide the discipline he was lacking. In the offseason of 2014, the Broncos signed DeMarcus Ware and just like that, Miller was able to surround himself by a great influence. Miller's take on the arrival of Ware:
"You get to see greatness up close and personal. The coaches always tell you this is what leadership looks like. You've got all these greats that come through here, and they tell you this and they tell you that, but having a real-life example right across just a couple feet from me and him being my idol, it was just great. I get to come in and see what type of shoes he wore every day, how he laces up his shoes, how he comes to work, how does he handle adversity from the injuries and all that stuff. I got to see it up close and personal. ... It was great timing."
In the wake of Randy Gregory's recent suspension, a lot of Cowboys fans have expressed that they are sick of him and want Jason Garrett to kick him to the curb. Emotions are high but rather than giving up on Gregory, the right thing to do is give more. There are few options that can help develop the young defensive end.
Bring in real leader
If Ware is a cap casualty in Denver, a return to Dallas could help the Cowboys in more ways than one. Not only would the team get a solid edge rusher, but they would get the right type of guy in the locker room. Say what you want about how great someone like Greg Hardy practices or how he leads by example on the field, but what does he show the younger players about being a good man? This is where DeMarcus excels over all others. Ware is the epitome of honorable and his presence would be great for the young players. The addition of Ware wouldn't just give the Cowboys an extra pass rusher - it might give them two.
Two years ago, the right move was to cut DeMarcus Ware. Now, the right move might be to bring him back. But Ware is still under contract and there is no guarantee that he'd even be an option for Dallas so the Cowboys need to have additional backup plans.
The Cowboys protected their Dez Bryant investment by having people follow him around to help keep him out of trouble. That may seem a little exorbitant considering he's a grown man, but it was deemed necessary. When Bryant ran into trouble with his mother in 2012, the Cowboys stepped up the assistance for the Cowboys star receiver to help him keep his nose clean. And it worked. No arrests and no suspensions. As Brandon George reported last year, this type of care taking is in order for Gregory.
The Cowboys had a rotating three-man security team - led by private investigator David Wells - that called for at least one man to always shadow Bryant. But Gregory is described as a player who doesn't like to party as much as Bryant and won't need as much security, a source said.
It is uncertain as to what type of supervision Gregory has received to this point, but more guidance is certainly needed. The Cowboys can't be with him 24/7 to make sure he doesn't smoke pot, but constant direction may help him alter his behavior.
Get him the right help
There have been reports that indicate Gregory suffers from bipolar disorder. So managing how this kid acts might be a real challenge. The Cowboys could leverage off the experiences of a Hall-of-Fame pass rusher who battled his own demons during his playing career. Charles Haley was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with it until he was able to undergo therapy and get the proper medication. He now spends his spare time mentoring the Cowboys rookies. Dallas may need to ask Haley to be even more involved in helping Gregory. There is nobody more equipped in understanding what Gregory could be going through that someone who's already gone through it.
Whether the answer is more mentoring or generating a better off-field environment, the Cowboys should work hard to help Gregory get himself back on track. They have a responsibility to help these young players. Helping Gregory get his mind right is something that could provide a big payoff for the team later.