Hardy brings sacks and baggage, and Jerry approves
Greg Hardy may be as disruptive to his own team as he is to his opponents’ offense. He’s one of the premier pass rushers in football, but he has more baggage than Greyhound. Having been convicted of assault in Carolina (though acquitted when the accuser declined to oppose his appeal), Hardy served a 4-game suspension for domestic violence before making his debut for the Dallas Cowboys. He impressed, with 3 sacks and 8 tackles in his first two games. But in Sunday’s game at the home of the New York Giants, his bizarre behavior stirred a new round of protest against him, even as the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, said he hopes to sign Hardy to a long-term contract because of “his spirit” and “his leadership.” Jones did not mind very much when Hardy was AWOL on Thursday, causing the team to have to search for him. He was listed as missing practice because of “illness.” That incident was a precursor of what would happen on Sunday, when Dallas dropped to the bottom of the NFC Least, at 2-4. After ex-Cowboy Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead late in the fourth quarter, Hardy ran onto the field waving his arms to encourage Giants fans to make more noise. After the PAT, he broke up the special teams huddle, shoving and yelling at players and slapping at a clipboard held by assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia. After Bisaccia chased him away, Hardy stalked the sidelines screaming about the special teams and arguing with the wide receiver diva, Dez Bryant. Coach Jason Garrett defended Hardy: “He was trying to encourage the guys who were going out on special teams.”
Between the Lines: When Dez Bryant considers you out of control, you probably have gone too far.
Harvick accused of causing crash to make the Chase
The Talladega 500, which between the beginning of the NASCAR season (Daytona) and the end, the Sprint Cup championship, is the most compelling race on the schedule, had an ending that was satisfying to hardly anyone, not even the winner. Joey Logano won his third race in a row but in the end got pelted with beer cans from an enraged crowd. A crash at the start of an overtime prompted an automatic caution flag that kept Logano, with a narrow lead, from being passed by the people’s favorite, the ever communicative Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Another hundred yards, I would have been in the lead.” Several drivers, including Trevor Bayne, whom he bumped into the wall, accused the defending series champion Kevin Harvick of intentionally crashing and thereby eliminating Earnhardt from the championship Chase while clinching a berth in the final for himself. “He clipped him and caused a wreck because he knew he’d make the Chase that way,” Matt Kenseth told USA Today. Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief, had an interesting take on the finish, saying that as the car lost power his driver was “trying to get out of the way but not lose too many points.”
Between the Lines: Childers admits Harvick was doing what drivers do, sacrifice safety to manipulate races for qualifying points they need to advance.
Saints coach Vitt tears Achilles while chasing thieves
Joe Vitt, linebackers coach of the New Orleans Saints, has been riding around practice in a motorized cart after tearing an Achilles tendon and breaking a wrist while chasing thieves from his home. “It’s absolutely what I would expect him to do,” QB Drew Brees said of the feisty 61-year-old coach. “We’re all able to laugh about it. Obviously I’m just glad he’s OK.” Vitt told his players: “I’m here everyday. I’m gonna be grinding. I just can’t jog from drill to drill. I’ve gotta push the button on the cart.”
Texans QB Mallett cut after missing team charter
Ryan Mallett, opening-day starting QB for the Houston Texans, missed the team’s charter flight Saturday for the game the following day at Miami. Mallett, who said he was “stuck in traffic” (often a credible excuse in Houston, where public transportation is still in its infancy) has a recurring tardiness problem. He overslept and missed a team meeting during training camp, which made a compelling segment of the HBO reality football series, Hard Knocks. Coach Bill O’Brien was lenient the first time, but this time he cut Mallett, even if Texans fans may be more forgiving of the player who missed the plane to Miami than the ones who were on it. The Texans fell behind the Dolphins 41-0 at halftime before closing to 44-26.
Colts owner and GM in locker-room spat, while Luck ‘stinks’
Following his team’s 27-21 loss to the mediocre New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was overheard engaging in a heated locker-room argument with general manager Ryan Grigson. Irsay reportedly is upset that Grigson hasn’t done a better job of procuring players. Grigson is widely criticized for using his top draft pick on Phillip Dorsett, who has become the team’s No. 5 receiver. What the Colts needed most was a lineman to protect Andrew Luck, the most pressured quarterback in the NFL. The Saints are 3-4, which is good enough to lead the desolate AFC South but is not enough to please Irsay, who reportedly is planning to sack both Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano. Meanwhile, Bob Kravitz, long-time chronicler of the Colts, wrote that the main problem is “Andrew Luck has stunk.” Indeed, Luck is completing 56 percent of his passes and has thrown 11 interceptions in the five games he’s played. The NFL’s No. 1 draft pick in 2012, Luck is hampered by a shoulder injury but is nonetheless a target of national media. It’s even getting personal. ESPN’s Dan LeBatard said the Stanford-educated Luck “looks like someone who drools in his sleep.”