Dallas Cowboys Safest Offseason Acquisition Is Greg Hardy


Conventional wisdom is coalescing around the notion that the Dallas Cowboys have risked poisoning their locker room with a number of high-risk, low-character signings this offseason. Chief among the concerns is defensive end Greg Hardy, but in truth he may be the safest acquisition in the league.

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The NFL recently suspended Hardy for 10 games of the 2015 season, a ruling that is currently under appeal, for his role in a domestic violence dispute a year ago Wednesday. The incident appears to have been out of character for the 26-year-old Pro Bowler. Hardy has no known previous arrest record or violent history. As such, it’s a bit reactionary to portray Hardy as powder keg ready to blow at any moment.

There are also serious questions about his accuser’s story. Hardy and his accuser have wildly different accounts of the incident, and there were no eye witnesses.

Hardy was convicted during a bench trial described as “unusual” by The Charlotte Observer and “bizarre” by The New York Post. Hardy appealed the ruling and the charges were dismissed when his accuser refused to cooperate with the prosecution and Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray decided he didn’t trust certain “inconsistencies” in the accuser’s account.

From The Observer’s exhaustive coverage:

"“Murray’s office would not elaborate on what prosecutors found when they compared (the accuser’s) statements, but the district attorney said in court that with (the accuser) unavailable, they ‘did not have sufficient legal basis’ to enter her statements to police as evidence.”"

Given Hardy’s non-existent arrest record prior to this incident and the district attorney’s reluctance to trust his accuser’s varying accounts, reasonable people can reserve judgment on this matter. The broader point is this: Guilty, innocent, or somewhere in between, there certainly is no pattern of behavior suggesting another incident is inevitable.

Now consider the very cuttable nature of Hardy’s contract with the Cowboys, described by overthecap.com as a “unique contract that is designed to protect the team,” in the event that Hardy is suspended, released, or otherwise unavailable to play.

Consider also that Hardy bet on himself with this contract: the Cowboys cannot franchise him next year. It’s a one-year deal with no guaranteed money, and Hardy is a free agent no matter what in 2016.

It’s clear Hardy signed this contract with one eye on his next contract, and one wrong off-the-field move can destroy his market value to potential 2016 suitors.

Now consider the intense level of media scrutiny sure to be leveled at Hardy’s every move.

Add it all up, and one may be hard-pressed to find a more upstanding citizen in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area over the next eight months.

Now nearly a month after his signing, the Cowboys have first-hand knowledge of Hardy’s character. Early impressions from players have been overwhelmingly positive. ESPN’s Todd Archer spoke with cornerback Brandon Carr and defensive tackle Nick Hayden this week.

What’s interesting is both were struck by Hardy the person, as opposed to Hardy the player:

"“I love his attitude, his mentality right now,” Carr said. “He takes it serious when he’s out there on that field. When he’s locked in, he gets after it pretty good. That’s something we need… You need guys that come and bring that added fire and passion. It’s always contagious. It really gets guys going out there.”“He’s definitely an intense kind of guy, just comes to work,” Hayden said. “That’s the kind of guy we want – a blue-collar guy willing to work and give it their all.”"

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spoke with reporters Wednesday in a video available on the team site, praising Hardy’s attitude, approach and demeanor:

"“Clearly football is very important to him and he works very hard at it… He wants to be a really good player. You can see that. In a lot of ways, he with some of the other guys on that defensive line can set the tone for our defense. The way he works, the way Jeremy Mincey works, the way some of the other more veteran players work, it’s been a good tone-setter for everybody about the pace we want to keep up at practice.”"

Attitude and approach are tough to coach into someone. Players typically either bring those assets to the equation or they don’t. Hardy’s mindset and work ethic, maybe even more than his talent, make him a safe bet to win over teammates in the locker room and find success on the field.

The anomalous nature of his domestic violence incident, his earn-it contract, his apparent hopes for a market-value deal in 2016, and the intense media spotlight on his every move make him a safe bet to keep his nose clean off it.

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