Whatever happened to Lenny Gomes?


Life is a series of moments. Some moments define our lives and some moments are quickly forgotten, while others haunt us and never seem to die.

For Lenny Gomes Gregory, one moment from November 20, 1993, will never die. That night, Gregory made one of the most infamous anti-University of Utah statements in Holy War history.

“Typical Utah (expletive). All those guys think that’s all there is to life. But when I’m making $50-60,000 a year, they’ll be pumping my gas. They’re low-class losers,” Gregory declared, just moments after the Utes beat the Cougars 34–31 on a last-second field goal.

Utah fans stormed the field and attempted to tear down a goalpost, which Gregory and other BYU players took very personally.

“Obviously there was a lot of emotion,” Gregory recalled. “There was a reporter right there and without thinking, that’s what I said. It’s not like I was sitting around on a Monday afternoon and just thought that up. If I had to go back, I would take it back. … It’s one of those unfortunate things I wish I could do over.”

The media went wild with Gregory’s statement, while Utah fans made signs and T-shirts making a mockery of the Cougars. Even worse, Gregory received death threats and remembers restraining orders being put in place for his protection.

“It was just crazy,” Gregory said. “I thought people would understand that I was a young kid and said something stupid in the heat of the moment. I didn’t threaten anyone’s life. People just took it to a whole new level.”

From the outside looking in, Gregory’s statement was perhaps the defining moment of his BYU football career. He said that while it gets brought up regularly, it hasn’t tarnished his memories or opinion of the university that changed his life.

“It’s more than just a football program at BYU,” Gregory said. “I learned so many life lessons and saw examples of what a great man should be, not just in Lavell Edwards, but the entire coaching staff and team was filled with top-notch quality guys. … Everything I learned at BYU has helped me in every decision I’ve had to make and has helped me be successful.”

Gregory graduated from BYU in 1994 with a degree in recreation management, after which he was drafted to play for the Las Vegas Posse, part the Canadian Football League’s attempt at American expansion. After the CFL’s expansion attempt didn’t work out after one year, Gregory took a job with a lumber company in West Virginia. Eventually, he started his own lumber company in Georgia, which was “a hot location for the lumber business in the early 2000s.”

After the building industry took a turn for the worse, Gregory shut the business down and went back to school to “do what I initially wanted to do.”

In 2003, Gregory earned a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. As of 2007, he is a full-time special education teacher at Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., and also coaches golf and the football team’s defensive line.

Gregory says he uses his experience at BYU to coach and mentor the youth he interacts with on a daily basis.

“As a former player, I look back on my young adult life and there were a lot of mistakes, a lot of regrets,” Gregory said. “I think about the talents I have and all the things I could have done and it’s hard just not knowing. Athletically and as a person, the coaches at BYU did such a good job molding me and trying to build my character.”

Now Gregory is teaching his students and athletes to be selfless and to open doors they’ve never seen before.

“I want to help them realize their true potential and take pride in themselves,” Gregory said.

Gregory didn’t realize his true potential as he grew up in a broken home in Santa Rosa, Calif., and said trusting others did not come easily to him. BYU changed all that.

“Words can’t describe the experience I had at BYU,” Gregory said. “I try to explain it, but all I can say is it was a tremendous influence on a young man that had no guidance and was pretty lost.”

Gregory had verbally committed to Oregon when he made a recruiting trip to BYU, at which point he “fell in love” with the family-centered atmosphere. He went on to play for five years with the Cougars, and saw considerable playing time and success as a defensive lineman during his sophomore, junior and senior years.

He was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference second team as a sophomore and senior, first team as a junior and was an All-America candidate as a senior. Gregory was picked multiple times as BYU coaches’ player of the game throughout his career.

Gregory said one of his favorite football memories came as a sophomore against the University of Utah, during which he had two interceptions.

“It’s one of the games I’ll always remember … it was a tight game,” Gregory recalled. “As a lineman, to have two interceptions in one game, that’s special. I couldn’t have dreamt it up any better to have it be against the U.”

Gregory’s best memories, however, were not of his own accomplishments on the field, but of the team’s accomplishments.

“I never thought about awards or how I did, it was all about being able to play at BYU and what the team did,” Gregory said. “That was the main concern. To win as many football games as possible and to win a conference championship.”

Amid the awards, achievements and success on the football field, November 20, 1993, represents a moment for which Lenny Gomes Gregory will forever be known. A moment he and the BYU community will never forget. More importantly, though, November 20, 1993, represents a moment that does not and will not tarnish Gregory’s journey that started on the football field.

“I try to tell the kids I teach and coach that everyday is fourth and one,” Gregory said. “I try to teach them no matter how hard it looks, never give up. Never throw in the towel too early. There are going to be times when you have your back up against the wall and you have to make a play and find a way to make it work.”

Gregory says the lessons he learned at BYU not only helped his grow as a person, but now affects all aspects of his life.

“I feel sorry for people who went to BYU and don’t feel like they are successful because of it, and I know they’re out there,” Gregory said. “It’s really too bad, because I had a great opportunity to be influenced by some of the greatest guys to ever be associated with college football. I feel so blessed to have been a part of BYU and I take a lot of pride in that. Being a part of the BYU football program is an honor.”

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