Putting Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy – acquired as a free agent this offseason – next to positive phrases has been as rare as Terrell Suggs giving Tom Brady a hug.
In his first two games with “America’s Team” after serving a four-game suspension for, surprise, a domestic violence issue last year, Hardy has behaved himself in a way no NFL organization should ever want to be associated with.
First, the ex-Carolina Panther took jabs at Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s wife and sister in interviews leading up to their October 12th game.
Then on Sunday, Hardy took jabs at the guys on his team after the Cowboys gave up a kickoff return touchdown – getting into a heated argument/altercation with Dallas special team coordinator Rich Bisaccia before exchanging words with star wideout Dez Bryant.
Oh wait, there’s more. In a post-game locker room interview and entirely dick move, Hardy responded to reporter’s questions with “No comment, next question.”
I talked with a Cowboys fan after the game Sunday, and it’s perplexing how some are defending this behavior. When I asked her why they are just laughing it off, she stressed that “it’s what his presence does to opponents when he is on the field.”
Even more disturbing is that owner Jerry Jones seems fine pushing Hardy’s behavior to the side as well. Jones obviously isn’t too bothered about a player who Carolina (now 6-0) was more than happy to let go and who has caused nothing but complete disruption to a team (now 2-4) that doesn’t have any time for a player’s out of control antics.
When the Cowboys owner was approached about Hardy’s remarks directed at Brady, he unprofessionally sidestepped the question with an answer that wasn’t even close to what was being asked. Then after Hardy is seen shoving Bisaccia on the field in the middle of the game, Jones responded by saying Hardy was “trying to fire up his teammates and is one of the real leaders on this team.”
Watch the reporter's face in the background while Jerry Jones calls Greg Hardy a "real leader" pic.twitter.com/oHgbEDgf3i
— John Gonzalez (@gonzoCSN) October 26, 2015
I’m with the reporter in the background.
This is the “presence” we are truly seeing from Greg Hardy: A player who disrespects the league, his organization, and his talent. No team, competitive or not, should want a player whose distraction outweighs his contribution.
Well, none except the Dallas Cowboys evidently.
Head coach Jason Garrett admitted with so many words on Monday that Hardy and his behavior gets a pass because he’s a great player and passionate. The fact there hasn’t been any true discipline for Hardy’s actions speaks levels about what is going on behind the main office’s closed doors in Arlington.
The organization might actually be rubbing their temples as far as I know, but Herm Edwards expressed it best on NFL Live. The Cowboys weren’t oblivious to Hardy’s issues – they absolutely knew what they were getting when they signed him. And thus, there’s no way I can be sympathetic to the Cowboys in regards to the mess that is Greg Hardy.
There are plenty of talented players who don’t have conduct issues. The Panthers have been just fine without him.
NFL players get fined for taunting, not conducting interviews, and paying tribute to lost parents. NFL teams have been fined for tampering, and NFL coaches get berated for influencing their players on how to answer interview questions. But yet, there isn’t any sign of discipline coming for Hardy from the Cowboys.
It’s clear that the league has had trouble setting precedence for handling players, teams, and coaches for their transgressions. But I’d be surprised if Jones and Garrett don’t eventually take disciplinary action. Let’s face it, this isn’t the last we will see of Hardy’s “passion” or “presence.”
Why is this so unsettling?
Because a talented player – playing for what’s supposed to be one of the NFL’s prestigious organizations – is taking away what should be valuable practice time and team building from his teammates and creating a bad example for younger fans. It should take more than having an effect on the field to have an NFL roster spot.
Playing in the NFL is an opportunity that should be embraced humbly, not something you believe is entitled to you. Just as much, respect shouldn’t be entitled to you based on playing skills.
And it definitely won’t be given to you when you shove one of your coaches, yell at one of your team’s stars, have classless remarks about fellow players, and disrespect for journalists. Word of the wise to Greg Hardy: Severely humble yourself if you want the audience to start viewing you as legit.
There is such thing as bad press, and your name is quickly becoming synonymous with it.
Unfortunately, that won’t change until the guy who cuts his checks takes responsibility.