Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones categorically disagrees with the opinion that the NFL took Greg Hardy’s off-the-field issues far more seriously than the team did, as illustrated by the league suspending the defensive end for 10 games, far exceeding even the most excessive of estimates.
“I take exception to that,” Jones said via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith.
When asked if the league may have learned more about Hardy’s situation than the Cowboys, Jones said the team had a handle on the situation leading up to the controversial decision to sign him and understood the possible rerepercussions
“I think we were very aware of the things that went on,” Jones said. “This was not a surprise to anybody.”
The thoughts expressed by Jones about having thorough knowledge of Hardy’s past and what it may mean to his availability echoed the sentiments made by team owner Jerry Jones when he insisted that the team performed its due diligence ahead of making the decision.
“I think we were very aware that there was a suspension pending and knew that it could be of that length, so I would disagree with you there,” Jones said. “I think we were very aware of that. I don’t think it turned out any different than we thought could happen. I think we structured a contract to deal with that and knew very well — our eyes were wide open on that.”
The NFLPA formally appealed Hardy’s suspension so it’s conceivable he may not miss the entire 10 games. The Cowboys obviously are trying to do and say all the right things regarding the situation. And yet, the news — despite Jones’ insistence otherwise — that their acquisition would be suspended for so long nevertheless must have been something of a surprise to the Cowboys.
Add that to the development surrounding how Hardy allegedly got into a verbal altercation with teammate Davon Coleman last week at the team’s facility during conditioning drills — during which Coleman allegedly referred to Hardy as a “woman-beater” — and the Cowboys may be left in the end characterizing the decision to bring in Hardy much like Dallas’ mayor did when it happened in the first place: “A shot in the gut.”