Greg Hardy has been on the NFL’s exempt list for 6 games. If he is found guilty of domestic violence, per league policy for a first offense, he would have to serve a suspension that equals the amount of time he’s been away. Now that his trial has been postponed until after the season, Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera believes that Hardy should be allowed to play the remainder of the season.
“In so many words, yes,’’ he said. “If things had all transpired and gone a certain way, then his availability might be now.’’
Obviously, not having a Pro-Bowler and one of the anchors of your defense available has hurt Carolina and Rivera acknowledges that.
“It affects a lot, because of who he is,’’ Rivera said. “He’s a guy that plays [four different positions]. He also plays in what we call a rebel package where he’s also a standup linebacker where we can get into some 3-4 stuff.
“But we don’t have him. These are all things, you go through OTAs, mini-camps and training camp and you work all these things, then all of a sudden you’re put in a different situation. That’s been hard.’’
I agree with Rivera. Greg Hardy should not be punished for the postponement of the legal process. Six games is sufficient punishment. But if he is found guilty during his trial next year, he should have to pay back the money he earned while on the exempt list. There’s also a legal component here that often gets overlooked. If the league does not allow Hardy to play, would he have grounds to sue? There are a lot of working elements to this one. It will be interesting to see how they shake out.