I’m sorry but I have nothing funny to say this week because Greg Hardy is back in the NFL. Last July, on the heels of so many other high profile domestic violence incidents, the then Pro Bowl defensive end for the Carolina Panthers was found guilty of assault and communicating threats against his girlfriend. I didn’t say he was charged with or accused of. He was convicted and given eighteen months probation and a 60-day suspended jail sentence. This all stemmed from a May 2014 altercation during which Hardy struck, choked, dragged and threatened the life of a twenty-four-year-old female companion. He allegedly also forced her head into a toilet and threw her onto a couch covered with loaded guns. He tried to claim that he was actually the victim but Mecklenburg County Judge Rebecca Thornton didn’t buy his story. Following the ruling, Hardy appealed and requested a jury trial. That gave him ample time to implement Plan B. He opened his wallet and paid off his accuser. Terms of the settlement were never disclosed but she clammed up and the case against Hardy fell apart.
The Panthers didn’t hesitate to release their star defensive player, and when free agency opened in 2015, most NFL teams refused to even give him a look. As is normally the case, though, supremely talented athletes will attract interest, especially in a league that’s known for giving second and even third chances. The Dallas Cowboys put their morals aside and stepped up to the plate with a lucrative multi-year deal. Hardy was suspended the first ten games of this season but that was later reduced to just four games. He was ready to see his first action as a member of the Cowboys when Dallas hosted New England in Week 5.
So here’s the thing about second chances. When they’re given, it’s nice to see some remorse, contrition, or at least a hint of humility. We got none of that from Hardy. Here’s a guy who’s extremely fortunate to not be behind bars right now. If he’s aware of that, it definitely doesn’t show. What does he say when he addresses the media for the first time? “I hope I come out guns blazing.” Okay, that is an obviously poor choice of words given his history but maybe we shouldn’t look too much into it; and maybe we wouldn’t have had Hardy stopped right there. Instead, when asked about the upcoming game, he offered the following. “I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap. Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game.” No one asked him about Brady, his wife or anything like that yet that’s how Hardy responded. That’s not only weird but incredibly disturbing. It’s also a pretty clear indication that he’s learning nothing from his experiences. Hardy doesn’t limit himself to just saying dumb things either. While not playing football, he busied himself making extremely inappropriate rap videos. I’m all for freedom of speech but I’m a big advocate for common sense and decency too.
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League have expressed concern over Greg Hardy’s words and actions. That’s all well and good but makes little difference since he’s already served his suspension and players unfortunately can’t be penalized for stupidity.
This week’s recap has put me in mind of another character-less individual. With that in mind I give you a Football Flashback from Week 12 of the 2013 season. Ndamukong Suh was still a member of the Detroit Lions and definitely still a thug. Some things never change.
Who do you think has the coolest name in football? There have been a lot of good ones. I was always partial to James Jett and Webster Slaughter. Dick Butkus is a classic as well. And, for some reason, I always liked Bart Star. That may be because, generally speaking, you just don’t mess with guys named Bart. But if you’re talking about current NFL players, I think Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh gets the prize. That sounds like an Aztec war chief or something. And, during his short time in the league, Suh has lived up to that name, quickly becoming one of the NFL’s most formidable and most feared players. Unfortunately, in addition to Suh’s quickness, strength, athleticism, and pure tenaciousness, he’s a thug. There’s no other way to put it. The Lions are sexy right now. They started the season 5 and 0, and are still a favorite to make the playoffs. They’re young and talented, and their stock is definitely on the rise. They’ve also been put in the un-admirable position of trying to distance themselves from one of their star players. Why? Right before being ejected from the Thanksgiving Day game, Ndamukong Suh was seen shoving and then stomping on the head of Packers offensive lineman Emerson Dietrich-Smith. Since the beginning of last season, Suh has been fined nearly $50K for three separate incidents, all of the unsportsmanlike conduct variety. He’s also been criticized for taunting Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. That one was especially touching because, while Suh was busy taunting, Ryan was laying on the turf hurt. Since repeated fines do not appear to be enough of a deterrent, Suh will be suspended for his latest indiscretions. He’ll sit a minimum of two games, and will likely have to go through some sort of anger management program. I propose a name change as well. Ndamukong Suh is just too tough. From now on, let’s call him Ryan Leaf. No one’s using that name anymore. Or, we can just call him Loser of the Week.