Greg Hardy has all but exhausted his resources in the National Football League; though it has little to do with his capacity to perform on the field.
One of the more valuable players the sport had seen in a non skill position over the last five years, Hardy was ousted from the exclusive club of titans on the field because of his inability to remain a civil human being off the field. Twenty-six sacks and three forced fumbles over the course of his two most impressive seasons in the NFL, the value behind Hardy’s successes to reach the quarterback were wholly undone after he was accused of domestic violence in May 2014.
He was found guilty in July 2014, but eventually had the charges expunged from his record after the victim failed to appear in court. We’re left to assume the two parties reached a civil settlement. Photos of Hardy’s actions were posted by Deadpsin.
The arrest itself prompted the NFL to act, effectively suspending the pass rusher for all but one game of the 2014 season. After successfully reducing his 2015 suspension from 10 games to four, the former Carolina Panther found a new home with Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys. Despite his six sacks and lone forced fumble, he would not be re-signed to play in Dallas
Eight months removed from what may have been his final snap in the National Football League, Hardy was arrested for cocaine possession in Dallas.
Less than a month removed from his cocaine arrest, Hardy has officially declared his intention to leave behind a career in football as he pursues one in mixed martial arts.
“Domestic violence” and “MMA fighter” are two phrases nobody, particularly those who color themselves as fans, ever wants to hear in the same sentence. A sport as violent as it is inexplicably entertaining, the opportunity to make a potential connection between the legalized combat inside the cage and domestic violence beyond it rarely goes untapped. And rightfully so.
A study conducted by “HBO Real Sports” determined that there was a rate of 360 domestic violence arrests for every 100,000 men in the United States. That number more than doubled for MMA fighters at 750. It’s worth noting that number stood at 210 for players in the NFL.
But, as we know all too well, numbers only go so far in telling a story. Visuals are, just like the ones provided in a lengthy “HBO Real Sports” exposé on the worst domestic violence cases in mixed martial arts history, are key.
Inarguably so, there is no more prominent domestic violence case than that of War Machine and Christy Mack. War Machine, born John Koppenhaver before legally changing his name to the nickname he frequently used inside the cage, was charged with severely beating Mack inside of her Las Vegas home. She suffered a total of 18 broken bones — including a broken nose, fractured ribs and missing teeth — as well as a ruptured liver. She also claims he tried to rape her.
His trial is set to commence on February 2017. He’s pleaded not guilty, but faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if he’s convicted.
It’s easily one of the biggest proverbial black eyes in a sport that often celebrates the literal scars rooted inside the cage.
For as great of a rise as MMA has taken over the last few years, it’s never more than a few cases like this to bring it back down to the dumps it was born into decades ago. It may be the domestic violence cases of War Machine, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Lavar Johnson or Michael Graves. It may be the performance-enhancing drug scandals of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, Vitor Belfort, Josh Barnett and Chael Sonnen. It may be the recreational drug use of Nick Diaz, Jones and countless others.
Whatever the case, the sport of mixed martial arts already has its own skeletons in the closet.
What is already viewed as a violent, often barbaric sport can often be redeemed by its honorable, competitive qualities. The sort of professionalism brought on by Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and other fighters whose appreciation for the unspoken rules of hand-to-hand combat cast a shadow on the savagery taking place inside the cage.
It won’t have that with Hardy; not with his history. Whether he’s capable of change is certainly one thing, but there isn’t enough change in the world to completely mask the images of the damage he can bring onto another human being outside of the defined boundaries of a football field or MMA cage.
Surely, Hardy is free to pursue a career in whatever field he’d like. His decision to enter the world of mixed martial arts is just that: his decision. Whether this is an outlet for him to fulfill his competitive needs or a platform to create a viable financial future for himself in the aftermath of his presumed civil settlement is entirely up in the air. It may be both. It may be neither.
But one thing’s for certain: He’s “fully committed to being as successful as [he] can be in this sport,” (via MMA Fighting).
Successful from a competitive standpoint can be accepted. But from a monetary one? It’s not quite as simple.
Hardy, as well as the numerous promoters currently salivating at the idea of bringing him into their MMA cage, will likely play up to the idea that he’s a former NFL star — one whose fame isn’t exclusively tied to the gridiron. Much like Floyd Mayweather Jr. did for a good portion of his career as a villain in boxing, Hardy’s mere presence will forever induce critics to surface. The moment he announces his first bout, you can rest assured there will be a line of people to follow — a score of spectators hoping to see nothing more than Hardy get what many feel is his comeuppance. Watching Hardy be knocked unconscious, forced to tap out or pummeled for three rounds would be a satisfying outcome for many.
At that point, however, he and his promoters will have successfully used his infamy to line their pockets with the world’s riches once more.
A man whose wallet allowed him to skate by in court and capacity as an elite pass rusher in the NFL allowed him to continue having a job in the brief aftermath, Hardy now brings all his baggage to a sport already paying for a few extra carry-ons of its own.