Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy has no comment on Ray Rice assault case

In the wake of the Baltimore Ravens releasing Ray Rice and the NFL suspending the running back indefinitely, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy remains in limbo as he awaits his November jury trial on domestic violence charges.

Hardy declined to say Monday if he expects any discipline from the team or the league for his July conviction of assaulting a female.

Speaking to the Observer Monday afternoon, Hardy said he had no comment four times in response to questions about anticipating any potential punishment.

In July, a district judge found Hardy guilty of assault on a female and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend relating to a May 13 incident at his uptown condo. He immediately appealed for a jury trial, which is scheduled for Nov. 17. In North Carolina, any defendant convicted of misdemeanor charges is granted a jury trial upon appeal.

Panthers officials have indicated they will follow the NFL’s lead on potential punishment. The team has said the league will wait for the legal process to finish.

Monday, a Panthers spokesman said he had not heard of any change in that plan.

Rice, the former Ravens running back, had been suspended for two games by the league in July for his role in a dispute with Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée, that left her unconscious on the floor of an Atlantic City casino on Feb. 15.

Early Monday morning, TMZ Sports released video from inside the elevator that showed Rice striking his now-wife in the face, her head hitting the railing of the elevator and her unconscious body lying on the floor of the elevator. When the doors opened, Rice attempted to drag her out of the elevator.

Hardy said he had not seen the video and didn’t offer much when told what the video showed.

“Well I haven’t seen it with my own eyes so no comment on that,” Hardy said.

Asked if he would watch it, Hardy said: “Probably not. I got to work, man. I got one sack (in Sunday’s 20-14 win against Tampa Bay). That’s not good. I’m going to go watch some film, get in the cold tub because I am getting old. Fifth year in the league. I probably won’t have time to run across it.”

Hardy has not offered expansive comments relating to his domestic violence case since he was found guilty. At training camp in July, amid six other “no comments,” Hardy said that he hated that he had been a distraction for his team.

Hardy’s jury trial is set for the day after the Panthers’ home game against Atlanta, which falls on the team’s open week. Hardy’s lawyer, Chris Fialko, has questioned the state’s ability to try the case this year and expects a trial date for 2015.

In a letter to NFL team owners sent less than two weeks ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted fault in his handling of Rice’s case and promised stronger penalties for players who violate the league’s personal conduct policy on assault, battery, domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

A first offense of the league’s policy will result in a six-game suspension without pay, and a player would face an indefinite suspension – like Rice – for a second offense. In an email to the Observer, a league spokesman said “each case will be addressed individually on its merits.”

“We will address these issues fairly and thoughtfully, respecting the rights of all involved and giving proper deference to law enforcement and the courts,” Goodell wrote in his letter to owners.

Before Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended by the league, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday afternoon he had not seen the video and said it was a matter between the Ravens and the NFL.

Panthers tight end Ed Dickson played with Rice for four years in Baltimore before signing with Carolina this offseason. He said the Ravens did what they had to do.

“That’s all they were going off – what he said and the first video,” Dickson said. “But the second one, they had to do what they had to do. With (team owner) Steve Bisciotti and (Ravens coach John) Harbaugh, personally being there four years, they always do things first class and the right way. That’s what they do.”

Staff writer Joseph Person contributed.

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