LLANO, Tex. – If you do not live in Texas, or in another southern state, you do not appreciate the value of football. Where it ranks in significance among all earthly activities. You might fail to see why the Dallas Cowboys’ hiring policy does not rule out elite pass rushers convicted of assaulting a woman.
They signed Greg Hardy for one year at $11.3 million. They’ll call it a bargain if he produces 15 quarterback sacks this year, as he did for the Carolina Panthers the season before he was banished when the NFL cracked down on abuse of women and children.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones weighed the issues on his scale of justice. It’s fortunate for Hardy that justice was in fact blind, that there’s no videotape of his domestic rampage.
If what Hardy’s accuser alleged is true, his actions were as abhorrent as Ray Rice’s more visible knockout of his fiancée in a casino elevator.
Hardy was found guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, but the verdict was overturned on appeal when the victim declined further cooperation with the prosecution. This created suspicion there was a settlement of civil damages and she got paid off to help her ex-boyfriend save his career. Hey, that’s only speculation.
Since Hardy eventually was acquitted, Commissioner Roger Goodell probably will lift the suspension of a player many consider dangerous.
One witness in the trial described her shock at the appearance of Hardy’s apartment: “Oh, my god, there’s so many guns.”
Which won’t be a problem in my state, where except perhaps in Waco, one cannot have too many guns. This is where the Wild West began and where it will end. Someday.
But Hardy, 26, may not be as wonderful a blessing as Jones expects. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings believes dragging a woman on the floor from room to room should be a deal breaker. He claimed he’s “a big Cowboys fan.” But: “Being a sports fan gets trumped by being a father, a husband, wanting to do what’s right for women. So this is not a good thing.”
Rawlings has hired many former Cowboys for his Men Against Abuse campaign. He worries that Jones made these retired and revered Cowboys look like hypocrites.
Jones is probably thinking Hizzoner has no idea how difficult it is to find a defensive end who can get you 15 sacks. What sort of Cowboys fan is he? Apparently he failed to notice that last year ALL the Dallas defensive ends — Jeremy Mincey, George Selvie, Anthony Spencer and several others you haven’t heard of — didn’t total 15 sacks.
The mayor, being a politician, must be politically correct. But Jones, being an NFL owner, must make smart business decisions, and history is on his side. The Cowboys have a tradition of star players with off-field issues. They won Super Bowls with Charles Haley, Michael Irvin and Hollywood Henderson. They’re trying to win another with a Pro Bowl receiver, Dez Bryant, whose mom said hit her during a 2012 argument.
So it’s hardly surprising that while the Minnesota Vikings criticized their All-Pro running back for “whooping” a 4-year-old boy until he had bruises, welts and sore testicles, the Cowboys were trying to figure out some way for Adrian Peterson to join them.
Peterson found that attitudes on domestic violence sharply differ in Minnesota and his home state. A court in Montgomery County, north of Houston, where he lives in the offseason, administered the lightest of wrist-slaps for his cutting a small branch off a tree and waling his son with it.
The Cowboys are spinning the Hardy acquisition as an opportunity for redemption that ultimately will make society safer. They’ll work with him on his personality disorder the way the Panthers never did. They’d do the same for Peterson. Please come to Texas, where we forgive and forget as long as you play football well.