Dallas Cowboys: Greg Hardy’s 10-Game Suspension Business As Usual


The Dallas Cowboys expected the NFL to suspend defensive end Greg Hardy for his role in a domestic dispute in May of 2014, they just couldn’t be sure for how long. Hardy denied the accusations, but was charged and convicted in a bench trial before that decision was vacated and the charges dismissed after a jury trial.

When the league announced on Wednesday that the Pro Bowler would miss the first 10 games of the 2015 season, many reacted with surprise at the severity of the punishment. The popular prediction leading up to the decision was a six-game suspension, the minimum under the league’s recently revamped personal conduct policy.

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Cowboys Nation reacted bitterly to the news (scroll to the comments), but it’s a pretty unremarkable suspension given the timing of the incident and the damage done to the league’s image over the past year. The NFL has endured all the abuse it cares to, and this decision evoked a sufficiently placid response from those vocal sorts who are ever alert for the slightest opportunity to express their righteous outrage. Some folks get a kick out of that kind of thing, and the NFL has had enough of them.

So Hardy gets 10 games. No one can say for sure what occurred in Hardy’s condo around 4 am on May 13, 2014. Hardy and his accuser have vastly different stories, and there were no eye-witnesses to the incident. You don’t know what happened. The NFL doesn’t know. No one does.

That Hardy was exonerated in a court of law is irrelevant to the NFL’s decision to suspend him. The NFL is a business, and Hardy is an employee. Even if Hardy is completely innocent of his accuser’s claims, he still made a series of poor decisions that ultimately put his employer in a very tough spot with the public. Punishment is warranted, even if he never laid a finger on his accuser.

And Hardy may be innocent, for all anyone knows. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray, who was in charge of prosecuting the case and very eager to pursue a conviction, didn’t trust the accuser’s account of the incident, according to The Charlotte Observer:

"“Victims and witnesses routinely stop cooperating in domestic-abuse cases and prosecutors still take the cases to court. Murray, though, said the Hardy case was different. He also appeared to raise doubts about (the accuser’s) credibility…”"

That’s the real reason Hardy was exonerated. Not because of a civil settlement he is reported to have made with his accuser, but because the attorneys gunning for a conviction didn’t trust the accuser’s account of the incident. Those questions of trust were not assuaged when the accuser admitted under oath to being high on cocaine on the night in question, according to the New York Post.

Given the absence of witnesses and the uncertainty surrounding his accuser’s story, one wonders if the league (and perhaps the media at large) would have warily dismissed the Hardy affair as a murky he-said, she-said – if not for the recurring image of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice brutally cold-cocking his fiancé in a casino elevator just three months prior.

From a business standpoint, and we all know the NFL is a business, 2014 was the wrong time to even be accused of domestic violence. Given the public furor over the past year regarding the NFL and its record on punishing domestic abuse, a 10-game suspension for Hardy is pretty tame. This business acted like a business. To hell with one employee – we got a shield to protect.

The irony for disappointed Cowboys fans is, without the threat of suspension, Hardy wouldn’t be a Cowboy. Absent this incident, and the media’s reaction to it, Hardy is a Day 1-caliber free agent commanding a multi-year contract with gobs of guaranteed money. No way the Cowboys would pay elite money for him. If not for Ray Rice, Greg Hardy could likely be a very rich Jacksonville Jaguar or Oakland Raider.

As it is, he’s a Dallas Cowboy. At least for a few games (pending the inevitable appeal). The uncertainty surrounding his accuser’s story makes his lengthy suspension frustrating, but it also makes it possible to root for Hardy on the field. I don’t care how much you love the Cowboys – you can’t knowingly cheer a guy who beats up women. So take the good with the bad. And don’t get mad at the NFL for acting like what it is – a business.

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