MMAFighting.com reported Tuesday that Greg Hardy, the former Carolina Panthers defensive lineman, will become a mixed martial arts fighter.
Hardy was jettisoned from the Panthers after a domestic violence charge, and struggled daily to meet the standards a team sport requires.
Hardy, 28, is 6-5 and 280 pounds, and despite his size he has abdominal muscles – or did when he played for Carolina. The first time I stood next to him I thought, how could a human block him? He was as imposing as another former Panthers defensive end, Julius Peppers. Hardy’s talent was elite, even if his discipline was not.
Two years ago Ray Edwards, a 6-5, 255-pound former defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons, was in Charlotte for a fight. When his football career fizzled, he became a boxer, and when he came to Charlotte he was 7-0 with four knockouts. Edwards, 31, is now 12-0-1 with seven knockouts.
When Edwards came to town, I asked two Panthers who they thought would be the team’s best fighter. Safety Thomas DeCoud said that Hardy would be. Center Ryan Kalil said it would be either Hardy or Byron Bell. Bell, an offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans, is 6-5 and 340 pounds. If Bell were a professional grappler, you probably wouldn’t lift him over your head and throw him.
Mixed martial artists, like boxers, don’t have to function within the dynamics of a conventional team. But they have to motivate themselves and be true to the people around them – trainers, managers, promoters. Mixed martial arts is a tough sport, and discipline is required.