Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, accused by his former girlfriend of physical abuse and threatening to kill her in July 2014, received a 10-game suspension from the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy.
Although Hardy initially received a 60-day suspended sentence and probation on misdemeanor charges from the court, his appeal for a jury trial was rewarded when his case was dismissed in February because former girlfriend Nicole Holder refused to cooperate with the prosecution. She and Hardy had reached a settlement before the trial.
Despite Hardy’s request this week that the court erase his record, the NFL’s inability to elicit testimony from Holder, and the NFL’s claim that Hardy did not give the league complete and accurate data–including his settlement with Holder–the league’s two-month investigation proved enough for the NFL to issue its suspension, which Hardy plans to appeal.
The NFL concluded that Hardy assaulted Holder in “at least four instances.… First, he used physical force against her which caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he used physical force against her, which caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semi-automatic rifles. Third, he used physical force against her by placing his hands around Ms. Holder’s neck and applying enough pressure to leave visible marks. And fourth, he used physical force to shove Ms. Holder against a wall in his apartment’s entry hallway.”
In his letter to Hardy informing him of his suspension, Goodell wrote, “The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”
The commissioner added, “You must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations of league policies. In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your banishment from the NFL.” Goodell argued that the 10-game suspension, which exceeds the current six-day suspension mandated, was appropriate because of Hardy’s “egregious” actions.
Hardy’s one-year deal with the Cowboys does not include any guaranteed money but could have soared to $13.2 million from bonuses totaling $9.5 million. With the suspension, he could still make $3.468 in roster bonuses. He could earn $500,000 for eight sacks in the six games left to him, $1 million for 10 sacks, $1.4 million for 12 sacks and $1.8 million for 14 or more sacks. As a member of the Carolina Panthers, Hardy recorded 3 sacks in 15 games in 2010, 4 sacks in 16 games in 2011, 11 sacks in 15 games in 2012, 15 sacks in 16 games in 2013, and one sack in one game in 2014, when he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list for 14 games.
The suspension, which begins September 5 and ends before the Cowboys game against the Panthers, Hardy’s former team, on November 26, allows Hardy to join the Cowboys’ offseason workout program, organized team activities, minicamp, training camp, and preseason games. Hardy must be evaluated by a professional of his choice to see if he must undergo counseling.
On Wednesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated, “This suspension is something that we anticipated prior to Greg’s signing, and we respect the commissioner’s ruling. Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources — work closely with Greg and with the league — to ensure a positive outcome.”
The Cowboys finished last in the NFL during the 2014 season in sacks.