In the next 10 months, the Dallas Cowboys may be headed into the playoffs thanks to Jerry Jones’ decision to bring an accused domestic abuser to Arlington.
By now, many of you know that former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has signed with the Cowboys. Hardy is a talented player who fills a gap in the Cowboys roster as a pass rusher and defensive decoy who can free up other defenders to make plays.
But Hardy also comes with major baggage. Less than a year ago, a North Carolina judge found him guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his former girlfriend. Hardy reportedly bought his way out of trouble in a civil settlement. His accuser apparently agreed to not cooperate with the state in Hardy’s appeal – by not showing up in court – and the charges against him were dropped.
The NFL is trying to get their hands on the evidence presented in the original trial to consider a possible suspension of Hardy, but it’s expected he will play in most games for the Cowboys during the regular season. They team agreed to a possible $11.3 million, one-year deal with the defensive end, including a bonus of more than $1.3 million just for showing up to off-season training.
That is a bargain price for a player of Hardy’s caliber and potential, but is it a punishment? Jerry Jones seems to think so. He told PFT Live (an NBC Sports outlet) that Hardy “paid a terrific price” by signing a contract that doesn’t pay his market value.
In the same interview, Jones addressed the possible hypocrisy of his organization, through Coach Jason Garrett, touting it wants people of character to represent the silver and blue.
“There’s no question that Jason wants a team that is made up of the finest character players and the finest talent that you can have,” Jones said. “The real world is that you don’t get all of that. One of the things that we need to do at all times is be looking toward becoming a better football team. That’s all of our jobs.’’
The Cowboys are playing damage control with several arguments about people deserving a second chance, and noting that they can work with Hardy to rehabilitate, although exactly how they would do that hasn’t been made public.
Jerry Jones’ daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson, an executive vice president of the Cowboys, came to the defense of the decision.
“A lot of people say this is awful, but they don’t know what to do. That’s why this is such an incredible opportunity,” she said. “That’s why I’m not afraid of this move. I’m a mom. I’ve got a daughter, I’ve got two sons. This is a serious issue for me, personally. I want my kids to know that domestic violence is not acceptable. But I also want them to know that if they make a mistake, no matter what the issue is, I’m not just going to throw them out. I’ve got to help them come back and make a better choice.”
In this country, we believe in giving people second chances, but those chances don’t necessarily deserve a multi-million dollar payday. If Jones’ daughter had been the alleged victim, would he have been willing to pay Hardy to don your team’s uniform. Would you have done it if it had been your sister or neighbor?
Less than a year after the Ray Rice incident, the Hardy signing doesn’t say that professional sports takes the issue of domestic violence seriously. The message the Cowboys are sending is that if you have the potential to help us win games, little else matters.
Come playoff time, that message may win out.
Dr. Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical alternatives to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed in the WTC circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at www.drzmd.com. You can follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DrZaharoff