Panthers officials Friday defended their decision to use a third-round draft pick on West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley, who was charged in 2014 for his role in a nightclub altercation with a woman.
Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and avoided a six-month jail term that was recommended by prosecutors. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said Worley performed community service, while Worley said the charge has been expunged from his record.
“We investigated it. We talked to the kid at length, including (owner Jerry Richardson). And we’re comfortable with this,” Gettleman said. “Do you guys think for one moment after what happened in 2014 I’m going to do something stupid? I mean, come on.”
Former Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy in 2014 was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend at his uptown condo weeks after Carolina placed the franchise tag on him. Hardy made $13.1 million despite playing in only one game in 2014 after being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.
The NFL has had a heightened awareness of assault against women since 2014 after video of Ray Rice hitting his now-wife emerged. The Panthers did not re-sign Hardy after 2014.
In the midst of Hardy’s case, Richardson gave a tearful speech while accepting an award where he spoke out against violence against women.
“When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference,” Richardson said in September 2014. “I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple.”
Worley was charged in September 2014 hours after the Mountaineers returned from a win against Maryland. Police were called to an 18-and-over club after Worley allegedly grabbed a woman by the throat and shoved her to the ground, according to published reports.
Investigators said the bar’s surveillance footage confirmed the victim’s account, according to reports.
Worley’s attorney said in reports that Worley pushed the woman down in an effort to break up what he perceived to be a possible fight between the woman and his girlfriend.
Worley told Charlotte reporters Friday night the surveillance tape was provided to every NFL team prior to the draft.
“It was a simple situation where it was wrong place at the wrong time. There was nothing malicious about the incident,” he said Friday. “All 32 teams, they saw the videotape. They have the official court documents, which I gave to them, where there was nothing malicious about it.”
“I did my due diligence as far as the court required me, and honestly it’s behind me in the past,” Worley added. “It’s expunged on my record so I’m looking to move forward. Nothing like that is ever going to be a problem heading forward.”
Worley was suspended for two games before being reinstated following his no-contest plea, which is not an admission of guilt but is, for the purposes of sentencing, in line with a conviction.
Gettleman said the videotape corroborated Worley’s version of the events.
“He got into a situation in a bar and he was defending his girlfriend,” Gettleman said. “There was no domestic violence charges here. It was just misdemeanor assault.”
The Panthers said they thoroughly investigated the incident and were comfortable with their findings.
“Trust me, we went through the vetting process. We got all the information,” coach Ron Rivera said. “We have a tape. We looked at it. We looked at what was said, what was written.”
“He was here a full day and he was grilled,” Gettleman added. “And we’re comfortable with where we’re at.”