Carolina Panthers

NFL nears end of Greg Hardy investigation

Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects the league’s investigation of former Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy to wrap up soon, even as the league fights to gather evidence from Hardy’s domestic violence trial last summer.

The NFL filed suit in Mecklenburg County last week seeking photos of the injuries suffered by Hardy’s ex-girlfriend, as well as a picture of Hardy’s gun-covered futon taken by another woman the night of the altercation last May at Hardy’s uptown condo.

A hearing on the league’s suit has been set for March 31, according to a spokeswoman in the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office.

“We are trying to get as many facts as we possibly can to make the most informed decision we can so that we can uphold standards that we put forward in our personal conduct policy,” Goodell said Wednesday at the end of the NFL owners meetings. “So I expect that that will conclude sometime in the near future and we’ll make a decision shortly after.”

Most observers expect Goodell to suspend Hardy for as many as six games, the baseline for first-time, domestic violence offenders in the conduct policy adopted last year.

Hardy, who made $13.1 million but played in only one game last season, signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal with Dallas last week.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the way the contract was structured – with Hardy missing out on $578,125 for each game he’s not on the active roster – gives Dallas the ability to walk away with minimal financial responsibility.

“The conditions of the contract were important: No guaranteed money, earn it every step of the way,” Garrett said. “At any point, if we don’t feel like you’re doing what we want you to do as a player and as a person, we can move on from you.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he spoke to Garrett about Hardy after he signed with the Cowboys.

“I just told him on the football field you’ve got a heck of a young man,” Rivera said.

Rivera declined to discuss the Panthers’ decision to part ways with Hardy and wouldn’t go into what he said to Garrett about Hardy’s personality and off-the-field demeanor.

“For the most part he had a good career for us, did some good things for us on the football field,” Rivera said. “I don’t want to get into (the rest of) it because it wouldn’t be fair.”

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