On March 19, the Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year, $11.3 million deal.
From a football perspective, the signing seems to make perfect sense.
The Cowboys ranked 26th in opponent passing yards last season, and Hardy, a pass-rushing phenom, has 27 sacks since 2012.
Off the football field though, the signing doesn’t make as much sense.
Last July, Hardy was arrested and charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. He sat out most of the 2014-15 season as a result while his case was ongoing.
The charges were eventually dropped in February after Holder received a financial settlement from Hardy, but the NFL is now conducting its own investigation into whether Hardy violated the league’s personal conduct code.
If a violation is found, Hardy could face heavy fines and/or suspensions, but the Cowboys signed him anyway.
When the signing was first announced, WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen used his “Hansen Unplugged” segment to chastise the signing.
Similarly, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called the signing a “shot in the gut.”
“I’m a big Cowboys fan,” Rawlings said. “I love them to death and I want them to beat the Eagles every time they play.”
“But at some point, being a sports fan gets trumped by being a father, husband, wanting to do what’s right for women, so this is not a good thing. I don’t think I’m going to be buying Hardy jerseys any time soon.”
Fans of TCU sports should follow the lead set out by Rawlings and Hansen.
Success on the field too often seems to overshadow off-the-field issues. As long as a player helps a fan’s team win, who cares how he lives his life?
Or so it seems to go.
Many fans and even some of the organizations themselves say they want their respective teams to win at all costs, but do they really mean that?
The TCU football team confronted that very question with former Frog DeVonte’ Fields last year, but the “loss of talent” that resulted from Fields’ off-field incident and subsequent dismissal didn’t seem to hurt them too bad.
Fields, like Hardy, was a pass-rushing phenom, but TCU’s defensive line seemed just fine during the now-Big 12 champions’ Peach Bowl crushing of Ole Miss.
Even if it had, even if Fields leaving somehow crippled TCU’s defensive line to the point where the Frogs went winless this season, would having him on the team be worth it?
No player is worth that price.
People can have second chances in life. We all make mistakes and have the right to learn and grow from them.
In football, however, especially at the professional level, there are thousands of prospects itching for the opportunity to get a roster spot and prove themselves.
Why look for excuses to hand out second chances when plenty of players who have done nothing wrong are still looking for their first chances?
If we truly want to take a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault, like Student Government Association’s “Not On My Campus” video suggests, we have to stop handing out second chances as if they’re deserved rather than earned.
Thirty-one NFL teams, including Hardy’s former Carolina Panthers, made the right call and decided Hardy hadn’t earned his second chance quite yet. But it only takes one for the vicious cycle to continue.
“America’s Team” made a big mistake signing Greg Hardy. Maybe not from a football perspective, but certainly from a moral one.
Managing Editor Jordan Ray for the editorial board.