The news of Steve Gregory retiring from the NFL may be somewhat surprising, considering the fact that he was a full-time starter for the New England Patriots last season. However, it can be easy to forget that professional football is a grueling way to make a living, even if the compensation makes it worth the while. Sometimes, it’s just the best decision to hang up the cleats. Although he was only with the team for a few seasons, Gregory will always be in the memories of die-hard Patriots fans.
Before coming to New England in 2012, Gregory spent six seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He made the Chargers’ roster in 2006 as an undrafted free agent; lasting eight years in the league was no small feat considering where Gregory started. He gained a favorable reputation as a solid starter in those years as a Charger, and it was a great move when the Pats added him in the 2012 offseason.
During his tenure in Foxboro, Gregory embodied every aspect of the Patriot Way. He was soft-spoken, hard-working, and quietly confident. Although slightly undersized for a safety at 5-foot-11, Gregory played big and wasn’t afraid to dish out hits. The Patriots, and the NFL as a whole, will miss Gregory’s exemplary play and model behavior.
Perhaps Gregory’s shining moment as a Patriot was during the Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Jets in 2012—you remember, the Butt-Fumble game. In addition to scooping up the fumble and returning it for a touchdown, Gregory had an interception and another fumble recovery. For his efforts, Gregory munched down on some NBC turkey postgame with teammates Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork. Whenever you’re hanging around those two legends, Patriots fans will remember you.
All in all, Gregory totaled 357 tackles, 25 pass deflections, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a touchdown over the course of his eight-year career. While he was never the highlight hog, Gregory was an effective player and deserves the gratitude of Patriots fans because he simply did his job. You can’t knock that.