(SportsNetwork.com) - Sometimes we all have to jump through a few hoops.
As a sportswriter I've spent the past 20 years writing about the NFL and many other major-league sports, covering everything from Super Bowls, to the NBA Finals, the World Series and major fights in both boxing and UFC.
You might think personality tests and Wonderlic-like IQ assessments aren't really all that germane to my job description but that doesn't mean I was immune from taking them once my company was bought out and a new corporate master arrived.
Because we all have to jump through a few hoops.
And that includes University of Nebraska star Randy Gregory.
As our society skews more and more liberal, views on smoking pot have certainly eased over the years, especially with the younger generation.
At last count 23 states and the District of Columbia have given the green light to treat certain medical conditions with marijuana. Colorado and Washington residents voted in 2012 to decriminalize its recreational use and several other states could have medical marijuana laws on the books in the near future.
Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll opined that the league should investigate medicinal marijuana use to see if it can help players.
Here's the thing though. Owners who sometimes give out eight-figure checks don't want their employees abusing any substance and potential NFL players like Gregory have to take drug tests whether they like it or not.
For the most part players can smoke all the weed they want if they just show a modicum of discipline because they are rarely tested and the timing of such screening never changes unless a player has been nabbed previously, a reality which triggers a far more stringent year- round testing protocol and tends to ensnare persistent violators.
That's why Gregory's admittance that he tested positive for marijuana back in February at the scouting combine is so troubling for some teams.
"I blame myself," Gregory, a potential top-10 pick, told NFL.com. "And I know it sounds cliche, but there's really no one else I can blame."
For most it's not that Gregory smokes pot, although admittedly every team would prefer a Boy Scout who has the Nebraska product's pass-rushing potential, it's the fact that he failed a test he knew was coming.
At best that indicates immaturity and at worst, an inability to stop using the stuff even when millions of dollars could be on the line.
No matter how you frame it, though, that's a red flag for even the most progressive of thinkers.
So instead of dreaming of the top 10 and the paycheck that comes along with that status Gregory is stuck in spin mode, embarking on a scandal-management tour in an effort to explain away his vice.
Gregory copped to an extensive history with the drug claiming his positive test at the combine was the result of high levels in his system despite abstaining since December.
A quick check of the medical literature says THC can indeed stay in one's system that long but only in chronic users. The length of estimated detection time in occasional users is only about four days and perhaps 10 for frequent users. For traces of the drug to stay in Gregory's body from December until February means he was a cross between Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson.
Yet Gregory also claimed he was "late to the party", saying he only began smoking marijuana after graduating from high school.
And that's a tale that's tough to believe for anyone who has a teenager these days and even tougher to accept in Gregory's specific case because that means he went from zero to addicted in record time despite using a drug apologists say isn't all that addictive.
"I don't wake up every day saying, I'd really love to go smoke," Gregory claimed. "It's not a struggle for me every day (now), it really isn't. In the past, hell yeah, it's been a struggle. It really has been."
Gregory's latest faux pas was only amplified by two other positives while he was with the Cornhuskers.
"I was worse at Nebraska than I've ever been at any other time of my life," he continued. "But I know how I am now. I think if teams really look at how I am now more so than the past, they'll see I'm making strides to get better, as a person and as a player."
That may be but others who can get to the quarterback like Florida's Dante Fowler, Clemson's Vic Beasley, Mizzou's Shane Ray and Kentucky's Bud Dupree will arrive in Chicago on April 30 with overnight satchels not the baggage Gregory is now lugging around.
"Am I worried? Yeah, I'm worried," Gregory told NFL.com. "At the same time, I'm confident. I know I'm going to be all right in the end."
Gregory spoke with 29 of the league's 32 teams in Indianapolis and tried to get ahead of the pending bombshell by admitting his past marijuana use.
"Obviously this is new news -- that I failed the test at the combine -- but the fact that I've smoked in the past isn't a mystery," he said. "I've had conversations with coaches. I believe we all have an understanding of why I did it. But I feel like I'm improving. I know I am."
Most hope Gregory's self-help mantra is true because any 12-stepper understands recovery is only for those who want it, not necessarily for those who need it.
"(Marijuana) could end my career," a realistic Gregory said, no doubt cognizant of where players like Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon stand today. "This incident right now is a step toward ending my career. The last thing I want to do is fail another drug test and be out of the league."
And the last thing a lot of NFL teams will want to do is take a chance on an undersized, marijuana-addicted pass rusher in a draft teeming with talented edge players.