Insiders

Point-Counterpoint Part 1: Hardy Experiment Backfiring on Dallas

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In this edition of “Point-Counterpoint,” Football Insiders writers Devon Jeffreys and John Owning discuss whether Greg Hardy’s latest blunder is a sign of things to come or being blown out of proportion.  Jeffreys gives his take below:

All Greg Hardy needed to do was shut up and play.

No one was willing to forgive what Hardy had done back on May 13, 2014, and it was unlikely anyone would forget it either. It’s difficult to forgive or forget sordid details like those of Hardy’s domestic violence arrest and subsequent conviction by a North Carolina judge.

Hardy is, of course, alleged to have assaulted his former girlfriend Nicole Holder on that May day by throwing her into a bathtub, slamming her on a futon full of guns, grabbing her by the throat and threatening to kill her. Deplorable actions, all of them. That Hardy’s conviction was reversed and the case dismissed on appeal — because Holder failed to show up at the jury trial proceedings after a settlement was reached — does not force us to forgive or forget Hardy’s actions.

To do so would be irresponsible.

But professional athletes have been given second chances in the past, and they will continue to be as long as their talent outweighs their baggage. It helps, of course, if they show the slightest bit of remorse, even if it is a transparent ruse to get us to welcome them back into our living rooms.

All Hardy had to do to get a similar opportunity was say the right things initially and then go out and do his job on the field, which he does very well I might add. But he couldn’t even do that.

After his four-game suspension ended and he met with the media for the first time, reporters gave Hardy ample opportunity to speak on the events and what he had learned. Instead of giving even the most basic show of remorse, he deflected questions to football and made an idiotic comments about coming out “guns blazing.” Later in the same press conference, he made matters far worse when he talked about Tom Brady’s wife, her sister and the significant others of other players. It was pretty clear then that Hardy hadn’t learned a thing from his absence.

His latest incident, a sideline blowup during last Sunday’s loss to the Giants, certainly won’t help him gain any favor. On the face of it, Hardy wasn’t exactly wrong for being angry about the Dallas special teams unit blowing the team’s momentum by allowing a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown late in the fourth quarter. But the way he expressed his anger, violently breaking into the special teams huddle, berating teammates and accosting coaches, continued to show that the guy simply isn’t wired right.

Hardy doesn’t even belong in the special teams huddle, no less in the face and then in a shoving match with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia. He clearly overstepped. That’s why you saw players like Dez Bryant get in Hardy’s face afterward. In that particular exchange there was an interesting contrast.

On the outside, Bryant is widely regarded as a hothead in his own right, with a penchant for sideline combustion that has developed him a reputation among NFL observers. But for all the talk among those people about Bryant’s sideline behavior, inside the Cowboys locker room and on their sidelines, Bryant is recognized as one of the team’s leaders. It is for that reason he traveled to New Jersey behind the team for Sunday’s game despite being unable to play due to his lingering foot injury.

Through not only his play, but more importantly via the maturity he has developed over his time in Dallas, Bryant has earned the respect of his peers: to the point where his voice, which was once ignored among his teammates, is now highly regarded and welcomed, even when he’s not playing in the game.

Defenders of Hardy’s actions on Sunday have cited that we don’t know whether Hardy has similar status in the locker room, so how could we possibly judge from the outside what we saw? To that I reply: where has Hardy earned the right to the benefit of the doubt you’re willing to give him?

With his actions in the past and total lack of remorse thereafter, Hardy has given outside observers every reason to look at him as a hothead, a bully and a menace. Though he’s made his share of mistakes, Bryant quite frankly hasn’t earned the reputation that’s been put on him.

Cowboys players, many of them longer tenured than Hardy, shouldn’t have to take his verbal abuse either. It’s not his place to dish it out, regardless of what happened. While Bryant has been in Dallas for six years, Hardy has been around for seven months and on Sunday played in just his third game with the Cowboys. Maybe he’s well-respected enough among his teammates already to criticize them, but there is a time, a place and a manner in which to do so.

Smacking the clipboard out of a coach’s hand and nearly coming to blows with him fits none of those criteria. If nothing else, it’s just bad optics and another distraction that the free-falling Cowboys didn’t need. Dallas has reacted to the incident predictably by brushing it under the rug, as they are known to do, and team owner Jerry Jones even decided that this was the week to make it known he’s interested in inking Hardy to a long-term extension. Amazing.

Perhaps you should pump the brakes a little bit there, Jerry, and let him play out the string. While Hardy has shown he still has the ability to be a dominant defensive player, he’s shown an even stronger knack for getting into hot water and it seems to be only a matter of time before he does something far worse than a sideline blowup, doesn’t it? Anyway, what’s the rush? Hardy had no suitors before the Cowboys came calling and he’s done nothing in his time with Dallas to earn any more. Unless he gets his act together, by the time this season’s over Hardy’s baggage may just outweigh his talent anyway.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys