Congressman Wants To Review NFL Domestic Violence Policies In Wake Of Greg Hardy Photos

"The employment of this individual is sending the absolute wrong message."
Recently published photos from Greg Hardy's 2014 assault case has one congressman calling for another review of NFL policies.
Recently published photos from Greg Hardy's 2014 assault case has one congressman calling for another review of NFL policies.
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

A Texas Republican wants to review the NFL's domestic violence policies in the wake of newly released photos from Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy's 2014 assault case.

Deadspin's publication of the gruesome photos last week led Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) to question why Hardy is still playing in the NFL.

“These photos are disturbing. I want the NFL and the Players Association to explain why it’s acceptable for Greg Hardy to still be playing," he said in a Tuesday release. "The Dallas Cowboys pride themselves on being ‘America’s Team,’ and they have an obligation to their fans, players, and families to conduct themselves with the highest professional integrity. The employment of this individual is sending the absolute wrong message on domestic violence."

While the photos have drawn criticism of the NFL's role in the case, at this point the league may have few options when it comes to further disciplining Hardy.

A North Carolina judge convicted Hardy of assaulting his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, in 2014, but Hardy appealed. The case was dismissed in February when Holder stopped cooperating with prosecutors' investigation. (She reportedly reached an out-of-court financial settlement with Hardy.)

The NFL placed Hardy on paid suspension during the appeal, and he missed all but one game of the 2014 season, his last as a member of the Carolina Panthers. The league tried to suspend him an additional 10 games -- unpaid -- this season, but the NFLPA argued that Hardy should not be subject to the NFL's new domestic violence policies because his incident happened before those rules were in place. An arbitrator agreed and reduced Hardy's suspension to four games in July.

While the league may have exhausted its options, the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones didn't have to sign Hardy, as they did in March. But even with the release of the photos, many of which the NFL saw as part of its investigation, the Cowboys have stood behind the Pro Bowl defensive end, saying in a statement last week that they "entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism."

"We basically try to make, personnel decisions that are in the best interest of winning the football games," Jones told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday.

"We certainly have parameters that when we make decisions about players we know that they have to be eligible to play, and eligible to play means through our legal system, through our system in the NFL," he said. "We have a very strong domestic violence policy in the NFL. In the case of some issues, and there are a handful of them, you get one chance, and if you mess that up, then you don't get a chance again."

After widespread criticism of his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell updated the league's domestic violence policy during the 2014 season. It now includes suspensions of at least six games for first offenses and possible lifetime bans for a second offense.

The Rice case also led to congressional hearings on how each of the major sports leagues planned to further combat domestic violence.

Though the details of the Hardy case were mostly known even before the pictures were released last week, Burgess said they "provide a new opportunity" for Congress to understand how the latest policies are being implemented by the league and the union.

"I look forward to sitting down with both the NFL and NFLPA to better understand this situation and what can be done to ensure that those who put their hands on a woman or child are not rewarded," Burgess said.

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