Columns & Blogs

What happened to change Carolina Panthers’ stance on Greg Hardy between Friday and Sunday?

Not sure what changed between Friday, when Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Greg Hardy would play, and Sunday, when Hardy did not. The only obvious development is the indictment of Minnesota star running back Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges. The Vikings announced Friday they would deactivate Peterson for Sunday. Rivera says he decided to deactivate Hardy Sunday and made the call in the interests of the team. Carolina’s history, however, suggests that several people would have participated in the decision, among them owner Jerry Richardson.

Although the NFL could have pressured the Panthers to deactivate Hardy, I suspect this was exclusively a Panthers decision, and that Richardson was prominently involved.

•  The last time the Panthers started 3-0 was 2003. They started 5-0 before losing on the road to Tennessee. Jake Delhomme made his Carolina debut that season.

•  Carolina kicker Graham Gano recovered a fumble Sunday. People say that kickers aren’t athletes. But when the ball invited Gano to pick it up Gano complied. Last week, Gano took on the Bethune-Cookman band. This week he took on 21 players who also wanted the football. So: last week, the band; this week, the ball; next week, the world.

•  Bene’ Benwikere slapped Matthew Stafford’s pass into the air and Star Lotulelei had a chance to pick it off. Star weighs 320 pounds. When a man who weighs 300 or more pounds intercepts a pass, it’s always a good thing.

Star was so close.

“I wasn’t close,” he says.

You looked like you almost had it.

“I didn’t,” he says.

Humility, too, is a good thing, although it can ruin a story.

•  To ignore Hardy’s conviction for domestic violence and communicating threats, and his subsequent appeal, and the attention the story generated, would be absurd. Domestic violence is pervasive. Whether the attention serves as a catalyst for change, or at least entices a potential perpetrator to think before he (or she) acts, I don’t know. But why wouldn’t it? That said, we got to watch football for three hours Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, and I kind of liked it.