Scott Fowler

Fowler: With trial postponed, Hardy still shouldn’t play

Ron Rivera is wrong on this one.

It is only natural for Carolina's head coach to want Greg Hardy back on the field. Rivera is a good man who has a lot more balanced worldview than most football coaches. But at heart, he is first and foremost a football coach.

Rivera is paid to win games, and right now he isn't winning them. The Carolina Panthers are 2-5-1 since Hardy stepped off the field this season due to domestic violence charges. The star defensive end was placed on a paid leave of absence before Carolina's third game. Now it looks like (although it hasn't been made official) that his jury trial won't start Nov.17 as scheduled and will instead be postponed until after the season.

Rivera thinks that if the trial is postponed, Hardy in essence will have already served his time and should be able to play.

But there's really no new evidence and no compelling reason for the NFL to reinstate Hardy and let him play now as opposed to what we knew two months ago. He should continue to sit.

His court date may ultimately change, yes, but that is the way court dates often work. Remember, at one point while Hardy was still playing, Hardy's people were hoping for exactly this same scenario -- that a crowded docket would push the trial back into 2015, thus assuring that Hardy could play the whole season for Carolina.

Instead, it has gone the other way.

Hardy put himself in this situation. The fact that his was the first real NFL domestic violence case after the Ray Rice punch video surfaced -- that was bad timing. The court case being pushed back? Again, bad timing.

But there would be no bad timing had there been no incident in the first place, and if a judge had not already found Hardy guilty in July of assaulting a female and communicating threats in connection with the May 13 confrontation. (Hardy appealed that conviction and asked for the full jury trial to which he is entitled -- the defensive end has since been working out in an undisclosed location and has had minimal contact with the Panthers).

The Panthers are the ones who have come out the worst on this. They are paying Hardy a whopping $13.1 million this season -- $770,000 every week during the season -- and all they have gotten for that so far is one sack and a mountain of bad publicity.

It is understandable that the head coach would want to get more out of his team's investment.

But ultimately, not enough has changed to warrant Hardy's return.