NFL’s Domestic Violence Policy Fails to Hold the Line

The NFL has yet another domestic violence crisis on their hands, and something needs to change before it’s too late.

Jake Matise, Columnist

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Hardy of the National Football League (NFL) originally received a 10-game suspension following a domestic violence incident during the offseason in which Hardy hit his girlfriend repeatedly. However, the penalty was reduced to a four-game suspension before the season started after further assessment by the NFL commissioner’s office, as they apparently felt that a 10-game suspension for a crime was too much. However, photos of the injuries sustained by Hardy’s now ex-girlfriend after the incident were recently released, once again sparking a controversial debate about how a stricter policy is necessary for the NFL to combat domestic violence.

I don’t really understand why the suspension was reduced as Hardy committed a crime and there was no lack of evidence to uphold the original suspension (not to mention that his criminal charges were also dismissed). The NFL has taken a lot of heat for things like this in the past, the most recent example being the removal of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. Granted, Brady wasn’t initially suspended for committing a serious felony, but it is worth noting as the majority of football fans disagreed with this ruling.

Let’s not forget that Hardy was signed by the Cowboys before his 10-game suspension was reduced, and the team was fine with it not being reduced. Team owner Jerry Jones said that “everyone deserves a second chance” when asked about his decision to sign the free agent. While that’s all fine, how many second chances does someone get? Hardy had a complete breakdown on the sidelines during the Cowboys’ Week 7 game against the New York Giants. During the incident, Hardy knocked the clipboard out of a coach’s hand and proceeded to argue with his teammates on the sidelines. Again, the team defended him, giving the same statement about second chances. Hardy also continues to blame his ex-girlfriend for the domestic violence incident. I personally think that the Cowboys need to own up to their mistake of signing Hardy during the offseason and that the NFL is to blame for pointlessly reducing what was originally adequate punishment.

Over the past year, the NFL has developed a pattern of either looking the other way when a player does something wrong, or not providing proper penance for the offense. For example, take the Ray Rice domestic violence incident last year. The NFL really didn’t do anything about it, because commissioner Roger Goodell and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti were good friends at the time, and Bisciotti asked Goodell to go easy on Rice as a favor to his team. Eventually, that issue worked itself out, after the NFL was in some trouble with the media following the release of footage showing the violence taking place. Ultimately, it was the Ravens who pulled the plug and released Rice, who has not signed with another team since.

The Cowboys need to do the same with Hardy. They gave him a second chance, and he wasted it. The NFL gave him a second chance too, and Hardy’s actions lately have made the commissioner’s office look foolish for reducing his suspension.