Decision to keep player on team despite allegations of domestic abuse has divided football fans and sports columnists alike.
By Andres Reyes
Senior Staff Writer
In 2014, Gregory “Greg” Hardy was convicted on charges of domestic violence in Charlotte, North Carolina, after beating his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. He then appealed for a jury trial, reached a settlement with Holder, and because she didn’t testify, all criminal records stemming from the conflict were expunged from Hardy’s record.
He got away with it. Now the defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys is running loose, chasing quarterbacks like a dog chasing cars and getting paid millions, while many believe he should be in jail. Hardy, without a doubt, deserves a bigger suspension. He committed a horrible crime and has not shown any remorse. But removing Hardy from the NFL will only make things worse.
Hardy is a disgusting person and extremely toxic to the environment the Dallas Cowboys are trying to build. No, he shouldn’t be playing or free to roam the streets, but we cannot blame the Cowboys for signing him.
We should be upset with the justice system that has a loophole to allow a man who was charged with domestic violence by a judge, before appealing for a jury trial, to walk away without any real punishment. This is teaching everyone watching that if we sweep our problems under the rug, we are good people. Sure, the NFL can tell Hardy he isn’t allowed to play football anymore, but he is still a free man.
The law dictates that everyone has a right to legal representation, and it is that legal representative’s sole job to keep their client from being punished. Hardy didn’t break any rules in terms of how he fought his appeals. That is the way the system works, and if it worked any other way, many people who are truly innocent would never get to prove their innocence.
The Cowboys simply saw a great player who was eligible for their team. Hardy’s $11.3 million incentive-laden contract may seem ludicrous. However, it is only a one-year deal, giving the Cowboys flexibility to either re-sign Hardy or let him go.
Hardy is leading the team with four and a half sacks this season while playing only half as many games as his teammates because he was suspended the first four. No one complained about Hardy’s off-field issues when he deflected a pass from Russell Wilson and set the Cowboys up for a better chance to win against the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the season.
“Jerry Jones wants a title badly,” Chris Korman wrote in an article for USA Today. “Absent the patience and wisdom to construct a roster able to reach that goal, he will gladly employ men like Hardy to prove to everyone that he’s going down fighting.”
Jones defended Hardy after his tirade on the sidelines just after the Cowboys had given up a touchdown on a kick return, saying “He’s, of course, one of the real leaders on this team and he earns it with respect from all of his teammates, and that’s the kind of thing that inspires a football team,” Jones said in a USA Today article.
I don’t see Jones as someone who doesn’t know what he is doing. Maybe I am wrong, but it is possible that behind the scenes Hardy isn’t a monster. It is possible he is just amusing himself by toying with the media. But he is still a sick person for beating his ex girlfriend.
It is gratifying to see that Raymell “Ray” Rice was the exact opposite in the handling of his domestic violence case involving his then-fiancé. “One thing that I wanted to do today is apologize to my wife,” Rice said. “When the time is right, me and my wife want to go out there and help people, anybody, with violence of any kind.” Rice showed more regret than Hardy ever will, but he never got his shot at coming back to football because he was an old running back at the end of his career.
Those, however, are the kind of players who should be given a chance to come back. Even if Hardy isn’t that player, removing him denies players such as Rice, or anyone who makes a mistake in life to help better themselves and try to right their wrongs.
Hardy will never be a better person because he continues to make matters worse by saying things like “Guns blazing” in an interview with Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas or declaring himself “innocent until proven guilty” on his Twitter account. There appears to be something drastically wrong with Hardy’s mind and he is not someone who I cheer for on Sundays.
But business is business, and Jones so happens to run the most lucrative team in the NFL. Jones rolled the dice in the hope of giving his team an edge in the coming season. And barring injuries to quarterback Tony Romo and star wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys would be in the playoff hunt, if not a clear favorite to win it all.
It makes me cringe every time I hear Hardy speak or see him in headlines, but he should be able to play. Unless the NFL takes a stronger stance on these issues by attacking the courts that let these men go free, I see no reason to ban players from the league if the justice system doesn’t see it fit to ban them from society.