By Joe Regan,
Sports Business Writer
After ten weeks we are just past the mid-point of the 2015-2016 NFL regular season. The season has been a roller-coaster thus far, with huge upsets and seemingly far too many injuries. It has certainly lived up to the hype and made an unforgettable off-season seem more forgettable.
The NFL was criticized heavily this offseason, from its handling of the “deflategate” scandal involving the New England Patriots to its handling of Dallas Cowboy defensive end, Greg Hardy. Hardy has become one of the most controversial figures in the game after he was convicted of assaulting his then girlfriend, Nicole Holder.
On Feb. 9 the charges were dropped after Holder failed to appear to court. The court stated that it had reliable information that Ms. Holder had reached a civil settlement with the defendant.
Upon conviction, Hardy was originally suspended ten games by the NFL, but following an appeal the suspension was reduced to four games.
All was seemingly in the past, until this week when Diana Moskovitz of Deadspin.com posted an article containing 47 images of Nicole Holder’s injuries and a summary of the events that occurred the night Hardy allegedly assaulted her. The article states that Hardy had thrown Holder on a couch filled with assault rifles during the assault. Moskovitz’ article received massive attention. It has people questioning the judicial system, the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys. Many questioned the integrity of Dallas Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones because he knew what Hardy had done and still rewarded him a one year $11.3 million contract.
The actions by the Cowboys raised the question: is on field performance more important than personal conduct?
It was also reported that the NFL had these gruesome images in their possession when they handed down the original ten game suspension to Hardy, which has many questioning why the punishment wasn’t harsher. In a similar situation last year where the league had concrete evidence in-hand, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, was heavily criticized for suspending Ray Rice just two games for assaulting his then fiancé in an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Following the incident Goodell admitted that he had mishandled the situation, to rectify this he updated the league’s personal conduct policy. In a memo to all NFL personnel, Goodell shared the new personal conduct policy:
“A first offense will be subject to a suspension of six weeks without pay. Mitigating circumstances will be considered, and more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. A second offense will result in banishment from the league…”
With a six week suspension at minimum for Hardy’s first offense, the ten week suspension feels light to many because there certainly were mitigating circumstances outlined in the article and proven by the pictures.
The fact of the matter is that playing in the NFL is a privilege very few get to experience. Those who are lucky enough to play on the biggest stage should be held accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, it seems that for the second time in as many years the NFL has dropped the ball again.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 17th print edition.
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