Greg Hardy benched over domestic violence conviction

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(CNN) — Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was convicted of domestic violence this summer, won't play Sunday against the Detroit Lions after being placed on the inactive list, the team announced Sunday on Twitter.

The news comes amid increased focus on the National Football League and the way it handles players accused of domestic violence.

Until the team's surprising announcement just before game time, Hardy was set to play Sunday, while Ray Rice, recently released by the Baltimore Ravens, and Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson won't.

Peterson was placed on the inactive list late last week after he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a child abuse charge. He tweeted a photo on Sunday of a highlighted religious devotion that cautions people against passing judgment.

Rice, meanwhile, might never play again, since the NFL suspended him indefinitely after a video was posted online that showed him punching out his now-wife in February.

Critics had wondered how Rice could be suspended while Hardy had not. Authorities say Hardy in May choked his then-girlfriend, threw her around, dragged her by her hair and threatened to kill her.

Hardy — 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds — says he is innocent, and he has appealed a guilty verdict rendered by a Mecklenburg County judge.

He will still be paid while he is on the inactive list.

“Shame on the Panthers for letting Hardy play. Shame on the NFL for not stopping it,” USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan had written.

“If there were a Greg Hardy video, would Greg Hardy be playing Sunday?” Sports Illustrated had asked.

“It’s ridiculous,” CNN commentator and legal analyst Mel Robbins said. She commended the Minnesota Vikings, who sidelined Peterson — one of the top players in the league — who was indicted on felony charges alleging he had hurt his child “with criminal negligence or recklessly” under the guise of discipline.
The NFL should suspend players, with pay, when they are arrested, not wait as the league is doing with the Hardy case, Robbins said. The player should sit out during the criminal and league investigations.

“And why that's important is because the NFL is in the business of making money off a game where guys fight over a ball. They are not ever going to be in the business of finding the truth about their players and what they're doing in their private lives,” she said.

The league should have the same zero tolerance policy it has for players who use performance-enhancing drugs, she added.

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch slammed the Panthers on Sunday after the team announced Hardy was out.

“Zero applause for the Panthers. They ceded to press/public pressure. It was disgrace it took this long,” he tweeted.

The league has announced a new policy that covers domestic violence and other types of assaults. It says anyone in the league — players or team personnel — will be suspended for a minimum of six games for a first offense of domestic violence.

Hardy was sentenced in July in a one-day bench trial. He received 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors he was charged with.

“If the NFL is saying there hasn't been disposition (of the case), I think they're ducking the issue,” Belmont Abbey law professor Steve Ward told Sports Illustrated. Ward, who is a former prosecutor in Charlotte, North Carolina, told SI that fewer than 5% of bench trials are appealed and Hardy is manipulating the system.

“Too bad the Minnesota Vikings leadership can't take over the Panthers for a few hours and show them how to make a simple decision. The Vikings get it,” Brennan, the USA Today columnist, wrote.

Instead the Panthers had drawn heated criticism even while speaking out against domestic violence. Owner Jerry Richardson, while accepting a civic award last week, began to cry while speaking about domestic violence.

“When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple,” he told the audience in Charlotte. “To those who would suggest we've been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge.”

Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler said it is time to put weight into those words.

The team should do now what it should have done after he was convicted, Fowler said: Suspend him. “Even if the NFL Players Association appealed successfully on Hardy's behalf and he didn't miss time, at least the Panthers would have sent the correct message,” Fowler wrote.

According to the NFL's personal conduct policy, players like Rice or the players union can appeal a suspension. Rice has until Tuesday at midnight to appeal.

If his suspension is upheld, Rice can apply for reinstatement after 11 months.

Rice is in a pretrial intervention program that means he can avoid trial if he successfully completes the requirements of the agreement he made with authorities in New Jersey. In that case, the domestic violence charge will be removed from his record.

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  • ted foofighter

    mel robbins suggestion to suspend a player when they are arrested violates the most basic
    legal theory of INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. funny how so many have thrown this to the side. its beginning to look like some people are suggesting whats akin to the witch burnings
    of centurys past

    • Marie

      the NFL is not a government agency, and has clear policy that no charges are even needed to take disciplinary action against a player. These players are being paid often millions, and the NFL makes clear that players held to a standard of conduct and are expected to be role models. Wether they are technically indicted or even braeking the law.
      hello? Richardson received that “against indifference” award b/c he, as Pantehr’s owner, plays an active role in community charity.
      Physicians, RN’s, teachers, social workers etc, make less money and are held responsible for their conduct by licensing boards. All those professionals, including social workers making only $30,000/year can be disciplined by their licensing board if they post on their public Facebook pages inappropriate statements or excessive amounts of pictures partying.
      Come on, ppl. How would you react if yr child’s counselor was under serious investigation (just investigation, by the Charlotte-Meck police) for abuse or assault. You’d expect that counselor to be temporarily be not seeing clients. You probably would care if with-pay or without….until matter settled legally. How about if yr child or teenager found her/his teacher’s Facebook public page plastered w/that teacher performing her side job as a stripper, which is not against the LAW. But those professionals would face serious discipline and ordered “extra training” seminars re professional “conduct” appropriate for the role they play in their community. These professionals would expect some “leave from work” despite no law broken, so that their licensing agency, school, “governing body” settled the behavior or the appearance of behavior. Especially if the police were involved in any part, regardless of “only charged/indicted”.
      The NFL has same concerns about the image of the “”profession” of being an NFL player or coach. The NFL has the same right to discipline conduct or charges, even before laws are broken or proven broken.

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