Trying to fill the shoes of a future Hall of Famer like Von Miller is no easy task, but Randy Gregory is ready to be that guy.

Opposite a healthy Bradley Chubb, and with depth like the recently drafted Nik Bonitto, the sky’s the limit for what this pass rush can accomplish in 2022.

For Gregory in particular, to say his road to this point has been rocky would be the ultimate understatement. Suspensions and injuries have dominated his narrative. However, he’s done the work and is ready to show everyone the new and improved version of himself.

Childhood trauma led to drug use in high school, college

Gregory was born on November 23, 1992, in Fishers, Indiana. 

He moved six times in his childhood because of his dad’s job. No matter where they ended up, Gregory was a constant victim of bullying because he never seemed to fit in.

Gregory frequently cried and battled depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem in his teenage years. Although his parents, Mary and Ken, were supportive and tried to get him psychological help, Gregory lied his way through the tests and was told by his doctor that everything was fine. When he eventually sought help again as an adult, he was told that he was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder from the bullying.

Gregory attended Hamilton Southeastern High School, where he was a two-sport star in football and basketball. 

Despite being a star athlete, Gregory was dabbling in DMT, acid, mushrooms, and marijuana as he explained to The Athletic.

As his marijuana usage grew, his grades started to falter, and he had to attend community college. Gregory went to Arizona Western College, where as a freshman in 2011, he had 82 tackles and nine sacks. 

After one year, Gregory transferred to the University of Nebraska. He started in 10-of-13 games, recording 64 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. His sack total led the Big Ten, and he was named a first-team All-Big Ten and was Nebraska’s Defensive MVP. 

While he was thriving on the field, his off-the-field life looked much different.

With all the attention he was receiving, Gregory began to develop social anxiety. When he first got to college, he intended to quit all drugs. However, to deal with the increasing pressure, he began self-medicating more and more. According to Gregory, “Weed wasn’t the problem. It was the solution to my problems, which was another problem in itself.”

Entering the National Football League

After graduating from college, Gregory entered the 2015 NFL Draft. 

Although initially thought of as a high first-rounder, he failed the Scouting Combine drug test.

Because of this, he fell near the bottom of the second round. With the 60th pick, he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys.

To try and help keep him on track, the Cowboys assigned him a live-in accountability partner. Over four years, he would go on to have five different accountability partners in his home. 

Gregory became known for frequent drug suspensions despite showing promise as a football player in his rookie season. 

His first suspension for marijuana was for four games in his sophomore season in 2016. Before he even saw that through, he was given an additional 10-game suspension. He only played in two games before being suspended again for the 2017 season. Then returned for the 2018 season, but the following February was hit with an indefinite suspension and was forced to miss 22 games.

Gregory had previously tried to get clean during his NFL hiatus. He went to a renowned rehab clinic in Texas in the summer of 2017. When he completed his rehab stint, he had so much anxiety that he was shaking on the drive back to Dallas and terrified of what was to come. 


Getting sober didn’t stick until 2019, while Gregory was serving his fourth suspension. His second child had just been born, and he was faced with the fact that he could not support his family financially and was on the verge of losing everything. This time, instead of focusing on substance abuse, he sought treatment for mental health issues which he considered the real root of his problem. 

He connected with Dallas-based psychologist Dina Hijazi and began therapy. Gregory said it’s empowered him to employ relaxation techniques and self-talk mantras for when the anxiety and negative self-talk begin to overwhelm him. 

“I’m a lot more positive about myself,” Gregory continued. “I never would’ve thought a year ago, two years ago, three years ago that I would feel this way about myself and be this OK about myself. I’m sure it’s hard for some people to understand…but I had a real bad view of myself and now I feel great about myself, so I’m real proud of that.”

Both these skills helped him fight impatience from when he applied for reinstatement in March 2020 to when he was granted it in September. He made his season debut in Week 7.

2022 and a fresh start with the Denver Broncos

After finishing the season strong, Gregory entered the 2021 season as the starting defensive end. He missed five games due to a calf injury but finished with a career-high tie of six sacks, three forced fumbles, and 17 quarterback hits.

As a free agent in 2022, it was initially reported that Gregory would be re-signing with the Cowboys. However, there was some disagreement on language in the contract, and negotiations faltered. The Broncos were able to swoop in and snag him. They signed him for a five-year, $70 million contract.

Following his most consistent season yet, and a shoulder surgery, Gregory’s athleticism has been on full display this off-season. 

When asked what he’s seen from Gregory, Broncos general manager George Paton said, “He has speed, he has quickness, he has power, he can beat you inside, and he can beat you outside.” 

While there is skepticism from some about Gregory’s ability to stay on the field, as he has missed 59 games in just seven years, all signs point to his best season yet this year. 

He is on track to play in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks after starting the preseason on the PUP list. Seeing as the Denver Broncos front office feels comfortable with the risks that come with him, fans should as well.

“I’m excited, man,” Gregory told Mile High Sports’ Zach Segars on Friday. “Fortunate just to get out there on the field. It’s been a long while since I’ve been out there.”

On what he brings to the Broncos defense, Gregory said, “As a defense, it’s about physicality. Whether that be mentally, emotionally or physically. Physically, there are a lot of ways you can mess with teams. Emotionally, speaking to them. The game within the game, little things like that. I think I bring that.

“A little bit of experience,” Gregory continued. “I’ve been through a lot, whether that be on the field or off the field. So, hopefully I can bring that, help guys out that way.”

Now, can he replace Miller? That’s a tall task. Especially after seeing what the former Super Bowl MVP did on Thursday night to kickoff the NFL season.

But Gregory seems to be ready to give it a shot. Broncos Country has to hope he can be a game-changer at times like Miller continues to be.