I am not saying that the Carolina Panthers – and the local media – never were enablers for Greg Hardy in Charlotte. They were. We were.
But what the Dallas Cowboys are doing – or more exactly, not doing – with Hardy has dragged this saga down to a whole new level.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones basically applauded Hardy for running into a special-teams huddle, slapping away an assistant coach’s clipboard, trading shoves with the same assistant and becoming confrontational with a couple of other teammates during last week’s loss.
It was out-of-control behavior, and it deserved a suspension. Instead, the Cowboys are pretending everything is fine and making noise like they want to sign Hardy to a long-term deal.
Although it’s wrong, I understand what the Cowboys are doing. As a player, Hardy is a 2,000-calorie dessert of a temptation. He can be so good that you want to ignore what he’s going to do to you.
Hardy’s volatility, his “Kraken,” his incredible ego (he told The Observer in 2013 he could beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one hoops) – all of it was laughed at in Charlotte. Or swept under the rug.
Until the domestic violence charges. Then it wasn’t funny anymore.
The Panthers were slow on the trigger at first – remember, Hardy played in the first game of the 2014 season – but give them credit after that. Hardy never played again for Carolina and the team never seriously tried to enter his free-agent sweepstakes in 2015.
Now Hardy is the Cowboys’ problem. They should have suspended him for at least a game for last Sunday’s chaos. But they are the Cowboys, so they won’t.
The Dallas Cowboys and Greg Hardy host the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving Day this season – it will be the first Thanksgiving game in Carolina’s history.
▪ Shades of Kevin Greene: For longtime Panthers fans, the Hardy/assistant coach incident had to bring back memories of Kevin Greene and Kevin Steele.
In 1998, star linebacker Greene angrily grabbed assistant coach Kevin Steele by the collar during a sideline altercation. Coach Dom Capers (much like Dallas coach Jason Garrett) incorrectly allowed Greene to keep playing in that game. Steele downplayed the incident.
Capers and the Panthers, however, then reversed course and suspended Greene for the next game. And Greene admitted “I lost my composure” in the locker room afterward instead of simply saying “no comment” to every question like Hardy did.
▪ Pitino’s cowardice: I thought it was cowardly that Louisville coach Rick Pitino didn’t even show up for the ACC’s media day in Charlotte Wednesday, leaving his players as the team’s public faces during the “escorts-for-hire” scandal that has enveloped the school’s basketball program.
If you are Pitino, even if you’re not going to answer questions about the scandal, you show up. Many other coaches have done so in similarly messy circumstances. You don’t hang your players out to dry like that.
▪ Keselowski’s take: NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski won the overall points title in 2012 and has made the final eight of the Chase this year. He has an interesting perspective on what a second title would mean to him.
“Anyone who has won a second title, that’s been an almost guaranteed entrance into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame,” Keselowski said. “That puts you at a whole different level. That’s really attractive.”
▪ Curry’s swagger: Example No. 1,234 that Steph Curry always seem to rise to the moment – in the first quarter of his very first game after Golden State’s championship, he scored 24 points in 12 minutes. If you didn’t see the highlights, it was ridiculous.