Former Patriots safety Gregory hired by Syracuse

Former Patriots safety Steve Gregory made his intentions clear when he announced his retirement last summer: He wanted to get into coaching.

On Thursday night, the Syracuse football program announced that Gregory has taken the first step in his coaching career, joining the team as a special teams quality control coach.

Gregory played for the Orange -- as a defensive back, receiver and special teamer -- from 2002-05 and went undrafted in 2006. After six seasons with the Chargers, he was signed by the Patriots as a free agent in 2012.

Perhaps the most memorable play of his time in New England was what's now commonly referred to as the "Butt Fumble," when he scooped up a Mark Sanchez fumble and ran it in for a score in a blowout win over the Jets two seasons ago. But Gregory was a key member of the Patriots defense who contributed in campaigns that led to back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances.

In 2013, when the veteran core of the Patriots defense -- Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly -- hit season-ending injured reserve, Gregory's role was magnified. After second-year linebacker Dont'a Hightower was given the opportunity to take Mayo's role as play-caller, the team deemed Gregory better suited for the job.

It's no surprise that Gregory hoped to get into coaching or that this phase of his football career has gotten off the ground quickly. He was often praised by teammates last year for his smarts on the field and in the meeting room.

“When we’re preparing for games, he’s not only able to watch film and see things coming, but he’s able to go to the coaches and say, ‘Why don’t we tweak this defense this way, because it better fits what they do?’ ” Devin McCourty said during the Patriots playoff run in 2013. “When we’re in meetings we’ll have something in the defense and we’re watching and Steve will say, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ We’ll all sit there and look at him and be like, ‘You’re right, that probably would be better.’ I think that’s what makes him so good.

“Steve always has something each week we play that he sees and things we can do. That’s why we call him a future head coach.”

Gregory was released by the Patriots following the 2013 season. He was picked up by Kansas City last summer but retired soon after joining the Chiefs.

Phil Perry serves as a general reporter for Comcast SportsNet, mainly covering the New England Patriots. Follow Phil on Twitter here.

June 6, 2015
By: Phil Perry - Comcast SportsNet New England