1. Welcome to Los Angeles Chargers NFL Football Podcast and Forum!

    Bolt Talk is one of the largest online communities for the Los Angeles Chargers. We host a regular Chargers podcast during the season. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Sign Up or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!
    Dismiss Notice

After 4 years, Bolts' Gregory has staying power

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 9:27 p.m.

    If he had a nickel for every person who just knew that he had what it took to make it in the National Football League, plus a dime for everybody who figured he’d still be playing and playing regularly for the Chargers after four years, Steve Gregory wouldn’t need his degree in finance for a guesstimate of the grand total.

    Fifteen cents, perhaps?

    “I don’t know if somebody else out there had a vision of me being here,” said Gregory. “I certainly did.”

    Heaven knows the Chargers have had ample opportunity to send the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Gregory away, off to find another way of applying his diploma from Syracuse. (Although, just in case the football thing didn’t work out, he actually had taken steps toward joining the NYPD immediately after graduation.) And the Chargers definitely have brought in enough new players over the years to prove they could do a better job in the secondary than him.

    Gregory, Steve. Still here.

    “This is his fifth year in the NFL as an undrafted free agent,” said fellow safety Eric Weddle. “Guys like that don’t stick around if you’re not a really good football player.”

    While he surely has a full appreciation for what Gregory does for the Chargers, Weddle is highly objective, but not completely. Over the past three years, he and Gregory have forged a strong friendship, a remarkable relationship at that. One is a typical Southern California kid who played college ball at Utah, the other a Brooklyn native who grew up on Staten Island.

    “The folks back home don’t think I’m a New Yorker anymore,” Gregory said with a smile and barely a trace of an accent. “I only go back for pizza.”

    People back east, understandably, might’ve thought Gregory would be back not long after first reporting to the Chargers in 2006. As a wide receiver and cornerback, he was a terrific all-around player for the Orangemen, one adept and assertive enough to have blocked five field-goal attempts over his college career. But he was also a player who lacked as much in pure speed as he did in height, at least by NFL standards for a cornerback.

    “Nobody really knew who I was, and we drafted Antonio Cromartie that year, and there was all that hype,” said Gregory. “I believed in my abilities, though. It’s been that way my whole career. I’ve always been doubted, always been the smaller guy, maybe not the fastest or biggest-looking guy. But I always work hard and find a way to rise up and beat the adversity.

    “I just wanted to find my way in here. I found that way in special teams. After that, I just kept climbing the ladder.”

    His special-teams skills are what kept Gregory in San Diego , but it was his versatility and ability to win over the new coaching staff of Norv Turner that helped get him more and more time on the field. Having converted from corner to safety, he was declared the new nickel back during last year’s bye week, not long before the Chargers embarked on an 11-game winning streak that extended all the way through the end of the regular season.

    Likely not by some coincidence, too, the Chargers rose from ranking next-to-last in the NFL in pass defense in 2008 to 11th. For his part, Gregory more than doubled his previous season’s total for tackles to 49 and turned two blitzes into sacks.

    Over the offseason, however, the Chargers brought in veteran cornerbacks Donald Strickland and Nathan Vasher and cut loose Kevin Ellison. So it was back to safety for Gregory. And the nickel, like that, became a dime.

    The clear hope of the Chargers is that this year’s drafted rookie safety, Darrell Stuckey, will yield much stronger results than Ellison did last year. Gregory, 27, has the appeal of experience, and with Stuckey sidelined by a groin injury, the veteran has been getting most of the reps with the first team.

    “Wherever he’s playing, he’s now a fixture of our defense,” Weddle said of Gregory. “He’s a pro. He epitomizes what a professional football player is all about.

    Whatever they ask him to do, he’s gonna do it. He’s a guy who strives to be great and really likes to prove people wrong. When people say he can’t do something, that’s what really drives him.”

Share This Page