There's no turning back. Within the Dallas Cowboys organization, the reaction to Greg Hardy's Sunday night sideline fight with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has been an unequivocal endorsement of Hardy's actions, even as fans and media alike rightly question whether the team's blind support of a convicted domestic abuser makes them an enabler.
The Cowboys haven't wavered in their isolated support for Hardy and his attempt to square up and fight his coach. Following the game, Bisaccia, head coach Jason Garrett and wide receiver Dez Bryant all said Hardy's outburst was "no issue," with Garrett explaining on Monday that Hardy wouldn't face any discipline -- a stern talking to from the head coach was deemed enough for this angry, violent man, although the meeting might've been conducted with their heads in the sand.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones went a step further on Sunday night, tagging Hardy a player who's earned the distinction as "one of the real leaders on this team," a notion that the Cowboys have been trying to implant since June. Impossibly, Jones wants us to believe that Hardy -- who's played all of two games for the Cowboys following his unremorseful return from a domestic violence suspension, who reportedly went MIA last Thursday before practice and who lost his s**t on his teammates without getting much of a reaction from them -- is presumably up there with veterans Tony Romo and Jason Witten as a "real leader."
New video of the sideline scuffle shows Hardy's teammates responding to him with confused, indifferent looks, but according to Jones, that's leadership material right there.
The only defense of Hardy's Sunday sideline incident has come from ESPN's Skip Bayless of all people, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of how wrong the Cowboys are on the issue of their defensive end.
And yet, the Cowboys plan to reward -- not discipline -- Hardy after all. During a Monday radio interview on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM], Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said that the team was "absolutely" looking to re-sign Hardy to a long-term contract next offseason -- a decision likely made in excitement over Hardy's three sacks in two games and overall strong pass-rushing play, which is what he was controversially signed to do in the first place. In simple football terms, the Cowboys are pumped to have another DeMarcus Ware-level sack artist and are willing to fold their entire sense of right and wrong into a probable multi-year eight-figure contract for Hardy.
The decision to sign Hardy in March 2015 was supposed to be made with respect to his history of violence against women. Hardy was supposed to be a different person by now. He isn't. The Cowboys are supposed to care about that. They don't. And that's worrying the NFL.
Following Hardy's willful ignorance and failure to address his own domestic abuse case, Lisa Friel, the NFL's special counsel for investigations, told The Huffington Post in early October that his non-responses were "troubling."
"I hope for his sake and everyone’s sake that his behavior is better than his language," Friel said at the time. Instead, Hardy's behavior is once again causing trouble.
In the midst of the NFL season, it's clear that the 2-4 Cowboys will do and say anything to downplay Hardy's behavior even as it becomes increasingly unacceptable -- not that it wasn't already. He's apparently too invaluable to their defense to cut, but this is an abusive man whose anger can and will lead to harmful situations, and so far, the optics of Hardy's NFL life haven't indicated much of a change. But screw it, let's let Garrett be the guy who manages his behavior!
The Cowboys are seemingly splitting Hardy into two different people. There's Hardy, star football player and Hardy, the hot-tempered misogynist who's choked out a woman before. The former is all the Cowboys see. The latter is who he really is and how "people outside the building," as Garrett put it, see him. It's who he is to fans who don't care about the Cowboys' win-loss record and who he is to the greater public when violent sideline outbursts happen on national television. In reality, he's one in the same.
But when football matters more than a person's destructive personality, plaudits and riches await instead of help. Fresh air is dearly needed inside of the Cowboys' stadium -- not another excuse.
Open the window and smell your s**t, Jerry.
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