Let’s start with the details. Greg Hardy is 6’4″ and weighs 275 pounds. He plays defensive end in the National Football League and is considered a premier player. His girlfriend, Nicole Holder, weighs considerably less.
Last year they got into an argument at Hardy’s home, at which point he began choking her before picking her up and throwing her into a tiled tub area in his bathroom. Then he pulled Nicole out of the tub by her hair and began screaming that he was going to break her arms and kill her. But he wasn’t done. He then proceeded to drag her out of the bathroom and into the bedroom and began choking her with both hands around her throat while she was lying on the floor. Then he picked her up over his head and threw her onto a couch that was filed with at least 30 assault rifles and shotguns, all of which were apparently loaded. When he got done, he threw her outside and told her he would shoot her if she went to the police or media. Both were intoxicated at the time of the incident.
In July of 2014, Greg Hardy was convicted of 2 counts of assault on a female and communicating threats. He was sentenced to 18 months probation and his 60 day jail sentence was suspended. He appealed the decision and during the appeals process, his team, the Carolina Panthers, thought it would be okay to let him play. This, in the middle of the Ray Rice assault incident. After playing the season opener, he was suspended by the NFL, until his appeal process was concluded.
Last month, all charges were dismissed because the Nicole told the court that she would be completely unavailable to testify. This came on the heels of a settlement offer.
Surprised? No, I didn’t think so.
So this past week, the Dallas Cowboys signed Greg Hardy to an incentive laden contract for 13.1 million dollars. If he never hits even one incentive, he will still make 750,000 this year.
Why would a team with an ounce of sensitivity do that? It’s simple. It’s the same reason most other NFL team or, for that matter, many professional sports teams will do the same thing. If someone can help you win games, they don’t care who he is, what he’s done, or what message this sends to society in general.
And really, why should team ownership care? There are groups who will protest but it won’t prevent 80,000 people from showing up at every game and cheering each time Hardy does something that helps their team win.
Sportscasters and media in general pontificate about how we all deserve second chances and that the NFL is a second chance league. The NFL is not a second chance anything. They are a league that has a group of teams that will sell it’s soul for wins and a championship and they, like their fans, don’t care how they get there. You drive intoxicated and kill a teammate? No problem, we’ll give you a contract. You beat up your mother and get arrested? Not a deal breaker. We’ll pay you. You do despicable things to women? We’ll make you a multimillionaire.
We all deserve second chances, huh? What do you think would happen to the common person who committed this crime, didn’t have the legal resources that Hardy has or the money he used for a settlement? You think after he had this on his record and got out of jail, companies would flock to hire him? No second chance there, pal.
It’s hypocritical and pathetic. The sad part is, this isn’t an isolated case. There are countless criminal changes filed against football players, and athletes in general, from high school to college to the pros. If you’re good, you live a charmed life. If you’re great, you can pretty much get away with anything. And each Sunday, we cheer those players and kids look up to them as heroes. And every day of the week, someone goes into a store and buys a jersey with the name of one of these players on the back and gives it to their son or daughter. Who profits from that? The NFL, of course; and lets not forget the player also gets a share of the profits generated by the sold jersey with his name on the back.
The NFL puts out commercials highlighting how awful domestic abuse is. They put their better citizens out front; and there are many players who really do so much good for their communities and are good family men. But they put the message out during time outs at games and then trot those same criminals out onto the field after the commercial is over so we can cheer for them again.
Come on now.
I can’t decide who is worse. The owners or the fans. Either way, we all lose.