The NFL suspended defensive end Greg Hardy, one of the players at the center of the NFL’s domestic violence crisis in 2014, for 10 games earlier this year, about a month after Hardy had signed with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year deal with the assumption that he would be suspended for some amount of time in the upcoming season, though the 10-game suspension was perhaps more severe than what was expected from the NFL, despite the very graphic nature of Hardy’s alleged assault.
Hardy appealed the suspension in May on the grounds that the 10-game figure was a knee-jerk reaction from the league to counter the negative criticism of its weak handling of domestic violence offenses and that there was no precedent for the punishment when it was handed down. Furthermore, Hardy was already forced to miss most of the 2014, albeit with pay, because he was on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Worth noting that Hardy was represented in his appeal by lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, who also represented Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice in their appeal cases against the NFL. For what it’s worth, Kessler also represented Tom Brady in his recent Deflategate suspension appeal.
The argument appears to have worked, as the NFL announced Friday that arbiter Harold Henderson decided to reduce the suspension by more than half.
Harold Henderson’s decision on Greg Hardy appeal is in. Suspension upheld. Reduced from 10 to 4 games
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) July 10, 2015
There’s no way to interpret Henderson’s explanation than Hardy has just been grandfathered into the NFL’s backward approach to dealing with domestic violence. Hardy may be fortunate on that account, but there’s no reason why Henderson couldn’t have gone with the six-game standard the NFL laid out late last year.
Outrage and confusion is already the prevalent reaction online to the decision, and that’s understandable. Greg Hardy was the last big case that happened before the NFL set up its new standard to deal with domestic violence offenses, and the outcome was bound to be seen as arbitrary by at least some. Because that’s what it ultimately was.