Decision to keep player on team despite allegations of domestic abuse has divided football fans and sports columnists alike.
By Sam Doherty
In the U.S., most people believe in the opportunity for second chances. Without them, most wouldn’t succeed in life. But when someone breaks a law, a second chance is much harder to come by – and rightly so, depending on the law broken.
When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, it doesn’t matter what crimes they commit, which illegal drugs they take or even if they kill a teammate. They are going to get a second chance.
Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the team, has made Dallas a safe haven for law-breaking players seeking a second chance. If you’re good enough to win games, you can still proudly wear that star on your helmet on game day. Plain and simple.
Last season, Jones allowed defensive lineman Josh Brent to return to the team after killing teammate Jerry Brown in a drunk-driving accident. Jones then allowed running back Joseph Randle to continue playing without punishment after he robbed a department store. If that wasn’t bad enough, this season Jones signed defensive end Gregory “Greg” Hardy to a one-year, $11.3 million incentive-laden contract after the player was convicted of domestic violence in a bench trial during the 2014 season.
Hardy began the 2014 season with the Carolina Panthers but was moved to NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell’s exempt player list after he was convicted for a case of domestic-abuse against Nicole Holder, his girlfriend. He appealed for a bench trial, and the charges were dropped after Holder, who was viciously beaten, didn’t testify. According to nydailynews.com, the district attorney said Holder reached a settlement with Hardy.
At first, one might think, she could have called the cops and fabricated the story for the money she would most likely receive in the settlement. After police evidence photos were released by Deadspin Nov. 6 of Holder’s body 24 hours after the incident, there’s no way anyone could believe someone could inflict these types of bruises, wounds and cuts on themselves.
Rodger Goodell saw the photos before reinstating Hardy into the league this season and tried suspending him for 10 games. The suspension was reduced to four games after arbitrator Harold Henderson said it was “simply too much.” Henderson cited the Raymell “Ray” Rice domestic violence case, which happened in February 2014 in New Jersey. The league decided all domestic violence suspensions would start at six games, according to nydailynews.com.
Rice, former running back of the Baltimore Ravens, was convicted for the same crime only a few months after Hardy. Rice was suspended for two games, but after a second video was released of Rice knocking his financé out cold in an elevator, it took the Ravens just a few hours before they cut him, and he hasn’t been signed by another NFL team since.
The Cowboys didn’t see the photos before they signed Hardy, according to ESPN. But did they really have to?
The Carolina Panthers, a team he played for during his entire career, didn’t even want him back after a season when he set the franchise record with 15 sacks.
The photos of Holder have surfaced, and they are just as disturbing as the video of Rice, yet Jones and the Cowboys still stand behind Hardy. Keeping Hardy on the team is further proof that Jones only cares about winning, not what is right or wrong.
If Jones is “all in” on the NFL’s personal conduct policy like he said after the Rice incident, he would have cut Hardy the day the photos came out. But as long as the Cowboys still have hope of making the playoffs and Hardy can still help them reach their goal of winning a Super Bowl, he’s going to stay on the team.
Jones said, “We have given Greg a second chance,” according to nydailynews.com. “He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career.”
Jones has called Hardy a “real team leader” who has earned respect from his teammates. Jones is leading young athletes to think it’s OK to act that way.
According to nydailynews. com, Hardy changed his Twitter profile to read “innocent until proven guilty-lack of knowledge & information is just ignorance-the unjust/ prejudicial treatment of diff [sic] categories of people is discrimination.”
All the charges were dismissed and expunged from Hardy’s record, but only because Hardy reached a civil settlement with Holder, according to a press release from Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray.
Dale Hansen, sports reporter for Channel 8’s ABC News, said on his Unplugged segment that Hardy has no right to claim innocence because the prosecutor dropped the charges only because Hardy paid the woman he beat up not to testify. “If I am ever accused of hitting a woman and I didn’t do it, and some prosecutor says that I paid her to keep quiet and I didn’t do that either, trust me on this – we will be back in court,” Hansen said. “I would never allow a prosecutor to slander me like that if I didn’t do it.”
Hansen’s statement only proves further that Hardy beat this woman and paid her not to testify. If he didn’t have the money to pay her, Hardy would be in jail right now, not on a football field. We all know that. Jerry Jones knows it.
What kind of message are we sending our children? That it is OK to beat women and still be cheered for on game days?
Jones sent a message to everyone by signing Hardy this off-season and an even bigger one by not releasing him when the photos surfaced; as long as you can help his team win, he doesn’t care what type of person you are or what type of crime you have committed. If you can help his team win, the Cowboys have a big, fat paycheck with your name on it.