Gregory's NFL career currently in limbo

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Missouri and Santa Fe graduate Kurtis Gregory was waived by the Carolina Panthers last week. He is awaiting another call from his agent as he tries to make a National Football League roster. (photo courtesy Carolina Panthers)

Over the past week and a half, the business side of things in the National Football League reared its ugly head, and it had drastically affected the career of Kurtis Gregory.

Only a day after celebrating his 24th birthday at the Carolina Panthers' training camp at Wofford University in Spartan-burg, SC, Gregory received his release last week Monday.

Gregory, a three-time all-Big 12 selection, had been working out for the Panthers since July 29.

"We got through with the scrimmage, and I felt really well," Gregory said. "I feel like I played really well, so that's all that matters.

"We watched the film and I felt really good after watching that. I gave up some pressure on one play. Then I walk out from watching the film and wham, I got cut."

The Panthers, who had signed Gregory as a free agent a short time after the last pick was made in April 22-24's NFL Draft, had made some roster moves, signing two other offensive linemen who had been developmental squad players last year on other teams, enabling them to waive Gregory.

Gregory said he drove from Spartanburg to Nashville on Sunday, to St. Louis on Monday and back to Columbia after spending several of hours in St. Louis.

"On Tuesday, I started cutting hay (on our farm)," Gregory said.

Then came a call from his agent, Josh Wright.

"He called and said the (New York) Jets and the (Denver) Broncos were both interested in me," Gregory said. "He thought the Jets sounded like a better deal, so I hopped on a 5:45 flight Wednesday afternoon."

Gregory, who ended his collegiate career starting 41 straight games for the Tigers, said he "finally got to bed at 1:30 or 1:45 Thursday morning."

Then it was off to Jets training camp after waking at 6:15 a.m.

Gregory passed his physical at the Jets' camp at State University of New York College in Cortland (about an hour south of Syracuse), but the two sides could not work out the wording about past injuries Gregory has suffered and a contract agreement could not be reached.

"The orthopedist said I had some moderate arthritis, which doesn't surprise me any," he said. "I had quite a few surgeries in college, it was just we had them at times where the public didn't know about them because they weren't during the season."

He has had injuries to his knees, left ankle and lower back, which hung up contract talks.

"They wanted a full injury waiver in my contract on my left knee, my right shoulder and my lower back," Gregory said.

"I found out during the combine that I had a stress fracture between my L4 and L5 area in my back.

"If anything (bad) would have happened, whether it be a new or old injury, they didn't have to keep me on and pay me. I would have no insurance policy basically."

It's not rare for teams to ask that of some players, Gregory said. But he wasn't willing to do that.

"(But) I didn't have any kind of waiver in Carolina on any of my stuff," he said. "My agent tried to get them to narrow it down to the arthritis and parts that were previously hurt."

The Jets said no to the proposal and pulled the contract.

"My agent determined they just wanted me for a practice body," Gregory said.

So, Gregory is back in Mid-Missouri awaiting another phone call from Wright.

Even if Gregory isn't on a team's 53-man roster or practice-squad roster by the start of the season, it doesn't mean he can slack off and not be ready at any time.

He pointed out there was a player formerly of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville that had been trying to make it into the NFL last year, working out with Ryan Madison, a former teammate of Gregory at Mizzou, and the Bearcat was signed to the practice squad by the Arizona Cardinals in week 12 last year.

"I've got to keep working out, stay in shape and wait for someone to call," Gregory said.

Gregory, who was scheduled to be a guest on "The Closers" a two-hour sports-talk radio show on 1400 KFRU Monday, said he will continue to help out on the farm and work out in Columbia, even though he doesn't have to stay there, having already graduated from MU.

A trip to Denver could be possible in the next week or two. But nothing is guaranteed.

"Dad (Roger Gregory) said he's glad to have me around to help out," Gregory said.

But his dad would much rather see Kurtis running around on the gridiron again, donning the colors of any NFL franchise, as would all of the fans of the Missouri Tigers, Santa Fe Chiefs and I-70 Conference.

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