Cowboys DE Hardy makes it official, won’t appeal four-game ban further
Suspended Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy won’t challenge the NFL in federal court over his four-game ban for his role in a domestic violence case.
Hardy said in a statement released through the NFL Players Association on Thursday that he is "absolutely determined that my issue is not going to be a distraction for the Cowboys."
The former Carolina player was suspended 10 games by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded through evidence obtained from his trial in North Carolina that he roughed up his former girlfriend, Nicole Holder, in May 2014. An arbitrator reduced the suspension on appeal.
Hardy was convicted by a judge last year, but the conviction was thrown out on appeal in February when Holder couldn’t be located to testify in a jury trial. Hardy missed all but one game with Carolina last year while on the commissioner’s exempt list, but received his $13 million salary.
The 27-year-old Hardy’s decision comes after a federal judge threw out New England quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in the "Deflategate" scandal. Hardy will be eligible to return when the Super Bowl champion Patriots visit the Cowboys on Oct. 11.
"While I am terribly disappointed to miss the first four games of this season, I am absolutely determined that my issue is not going to be a distraction for the Cowboys," Hardy said.
Goodell settled on a 10-game suspension because he said Hardy "violated NFL policies in multiple respects and with aggravating circumstances," and that Holder was "severely traumatized."
But arbitrator Harold Henderson said the suspension was too long because the league had established six games as the initial punishment in domestic cases.
The league announced a tougher standard in August 2014 after widespread criticism over its handling of the domestic case involving Ray Rice. The former Baltimore running back was suspended two games after his arrest for assaulting his then-fiancee on an Atlantic City casino elevator, but before video surfaced on his punch that knocked her out.
Hardy’s case happened three months before the league stiffened the penalty, leading his representatives to consider litigation even after Henderson reduced the suspension.
The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year, $13.1 million contract that’s heavily based on incentives, including some related to how many games he plays. He participated in the offseason program and training camp and played in three of the four preseason games.
"I have enormous affection and respect for everyone here, and having seen the impact a court case can have on an NFL organization, I believe it is in the team’s best interest for me to announce that I will not pursue any further litigation," Hardy said.
The NFL had to sue to gain access to some of the photos used in Hardy’s trial, eventually reaching a settlement with North Carolina prosecutors. He was convicted on charges that he choked and grabbed his ex-girlfriend and threw her onto a futon that had at least four semi-automatic rifles on it.
Hardy had 26 sacks in his last two full seasons with the Panthers. He tied a franchise record with 15 in 2013.
"Everything I do from this point on will be designed to bring glory and pride to my family, their family and this team," Hardy said.