The NFL handed down one of the stiffest domestic-violence punishments in U.S sports history Wednesday, suspending Greg Hardy for 10 games without pay – even though charges against the Dallas Cowboys defensive end had been dropped.
Hardy, 26, signed a one-year, $11.3-million contract with Dallas in March. The Cowboys were aware of Hardy’s legal troubles at the time of the signing, but the 10-game suspension is nonetheless surprising, if not stunning.
“Yeah, it is,” 105.3 The Fan in Dallas radio host Ben Rogers said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It caught the Cowboys by surprise. I was told by someone close to the organization that they never would have done this if they thought it was going to be a 10-game suspension. I think most of them thought it was going to be somewhere between two to four games – maybe six, tops – and they’d be interested in going down that road if that’s kind of the ball park where it was. So there’s a lot of shock over at Valley Ranch and a lot of surprise.”
Rogers, for one, doesn’t know how to feel about the suspension.
“I’m a homer,” he admitted. “I’m in Dallas. I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m covering the team I’ve loved my whole life. Part of me is like, ‘I can’t wait for Greg Hardy to get out there.’ So I’m infuriated that (Roger) Goodell gave him 10 games. On the other side, I’m sitting here talking on the radio going, ‘Yeah he doesn’t deserve to be suspended,’ but what am I really saying? Am I saying, ‘Hey, come on, it’s not that bad. It’s just a little domestic violence’? It sickens me to make that argument as well. I’m kind of caught in the middle of this one.”
And not just regarding the suspension. On one hand, the NFL should be lauded for taking stiff action against Hardy. On the other hand, the timing of Hardy’s return ought to raise a few eyebrows.
The Cowboys’ 11th game of the season is against Carolina – Hardy’s former team – on Thanksgiving. The NFL will undoubtedly benefit from the build-up to that game.
“Right, they’re cashing in on that,” Rogers said. “it’s incredibly hypocritical. That’s the first thing we noticed: ‘Wait, 10 games? Oh my God, he returns against Carolina on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine that.’”
Rogers wonders what effect, if any, Hardy’s suspension will have on Dallas’ draft strategy – and the strategies of teams around the league.
“I do wonder if this suspension . . . does send a message to the rest of the league,” Rogers said. “That, hey look, they’re taking this very seriously and even if guys are able to hire a lawyer and get out of their trouble and don’t have to do any jail time, that the league is going to protect their brand and protect their business. So draft character-questionable guys at your own peril.”
The Cowboys are reportedly interested in former Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, who was jailed for domestic violence last November and kicked off the team. Whether Dallas drafts Clark – or any prospect with a troubling past – will be an interesting storyline to follow on draft night.
“Are they going to walk that line and stay away from anybody with character issues?” Rogers wondered. “Or will Jerry (Jones) say, ‘You know what? We’re not worried about it. We want to win football games. We’ll push the envelope’? It’s going to be really fun to watch. But hey, there’s always storylines when it comes to the Cowboys.”