Panthers DE Hardy placed on Exempt List

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has agreed to be placed on the commissioner exempt list. He'll remain on this list, and unavailable to join the team, until his domestic violence case has been resolved.

Andrew Weber

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Embattled and much-maligned defensive end Greg Hardy may have played his last game as a member of the Carolina Panthers after being placed on the Commissioner Exempt list Wednesday afternoon until further notice.

Hardy, who was found guilty on July 15 of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and has since appealed, his representatives, Panther executives, the NFL and the NFL Players Association had much discussion about his current situation. The end result was Hardy accepting the move to the exempt list. He will still get his $13.1 million salary paid in full, provided he’s not suspended before the season ends, which would likely only happen if he is found guilty in his new trial, which is set for Nov. 17.

The Panthers have come under heavy scrutiny over their handling of his situation. He played in Week 1 at Tampa Bay, before being deactivated last week for a home game against Detroit.

"Through this whole process, since it started back in May, we tried to be as thoughtful and as intentional as possible with everybody that’s involved," said Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman, who spoke about the situation for the very first time. "This is hard now. This is not easy. We’re constantly trying to do the right thing.

"Our overriding goal has always been to do the right thing."

In a statement, Hardy said he will focus on his trial:

"I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter," he said. "I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that’s where my focus should be. I appreciate the Panthers for giving me the opportunity and look forward to being back with my teammates as soon as possible. I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the Carolina Panthers organization during our season. My decision to take a leave of absence allows me to focus on my family until the legal process has run its course."

Gettleman said he agrees with Hardy’s decision to go on the exempt list.

"We understand Greg’s decision and given the circumstances, it is very important he concentrates on his legal issues," Gettleman said. "We believe that this is the right course of action at this time."

Gettleman hinted that other scenarios were on the table, but when asked if suspension without pay was one of them, he paused before finally answering in the negative, at least not from the Panthers. That seemingly indicates that the NFL had listed it as a possible option, if he didn’t agree to go on the exempt list.

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera said he spent a good amount of time with Hardy on Wednesday.

"Greg’s hurt. He really is," Rivera said. "It’s a tough situation. He knows he put himself in it.

"He was apologetic with me. We had a great conversation. It’s unfortunate that it was under these circumstances. But he’s resolute in how he feels about his situation and circumstances and he does expect to be back in November."

According to the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual: The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

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