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Off-field actions shouldn’t affect sports, no matter how atrocious

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy should be allowed to play football. Let’s not forget that Hardy was found guilty of assault and that he served his four-game suspension for that. However, he did appeal the judge’s decision, and in the jury trial all the charges against him were dropped and his record was expunged.

Now, there was always outrage around the fact that the Dallas Cowboys signed the troublesome Hardy to an incentive-laden contract. However, cries for added punishment by the league or his immediate release from the Cowboys became exponentially louder after Deadspin obtained and released the police pictures of his bruised girlfriend, Nicole Holder, over a week ago.

When former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulted his fiancée, there was outrage—the video of him dragging the unconscious body of Janay Rice out of an elevator was the catalyst for his football demise. It forced the NFL to act retroactively on their punishment, which opened up a Pandora’s Box for the league.

Hardy’s incident took place before the Rice fiasco, and up until the NFL acted on that scandal, Hardy managed to fly under the radar.

Since 2000, there have been at least 50 NFL players found guilty in cases of domestic violence according to ESPN’s Outside The Lines. However, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy’s cases are the only ones that really drew public ire. Why? Well it’s simple—the images gave the public a way to quantify what happened.

Domestic abuse is now under the microscope in the NFL. The outrage is more than understandable, the timing however is not. The evidence and testimonies presented in Hardy’s first trial are as graphic as the images. Yet, as it was the case with the Ray Rice scandal and many other major news stories, the anger isn’t expressed until we have visual proof of the damage.

Would Greg Hardy be playing right now if he had broken his girlfriend’s collarbone or if he had attacked a pregnant girlfriend? Because, by the way, two NFL players did exactly that and haven’t been punished for it, let alone faced scrutiny from the media or the public. Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington and Ray McDonald, recently cut by the Chicago Bears saw almost no repercussions on their actions.

You might be right to call Greg Hardy disgusting and completely lacking in remorse for his actions.

However you should have been calling for his head from the start, not now that we have the photos to confirm how sickening his actions were.

Like it or not, he has the right to play but, with more awareness and less tolerance of this issue in the league, hopefully this will be the last time we have to see this kind of scandal in the NFL.