The Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent defensive lineman Greg Hardy to a one-year contract, the team announced on Twitter today. He's just what the Cowboys need. The 2010 sixth-round pick from Ole Miss is a big, rangy outside speed rusher. He's tallied 26 sacks in his last two full seasons.
Hardy played in one game in 2014, after being suspended, with pay, over a May 2014 incident during which he allegedly grabbed his girlfriend, threw her on the floor, strangled her, threw her into a bathtub and slammed her into a futon weighed down with loaded guns. Hardy's girlfriend, Nicole Holder, said that he threatened to shoot her if she went to the media or called the police.
Hardy has a cool nickname. The Kraken is a legendary sea monster said to live off the coast of Norway and Greenland. Hardy's size and wingspan easily validate the nickname on film. As Bob Sturm points out for the Morning News, some of his outside moves are reminiscent of Reggie White. Hardy can make highly paid, well-regarded offensive linemen look silly. Before the 2013 season, Hardy said he hoped to tally 50 sacks on the season. The goal sounded insane, but not that insane.
A woman who said she was in Hardy's apartment the night of his alleged attack on his girlfriend was recorded making a 911 call from the front desk of Hardy's building. The Charlotte Observer obtained the tape. "We need the police here now before this girl gets seriously hurt. Now!" she said, while telling police that Hardy had been beating Holder for more than a half hour.
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Hardy is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. At Briarcrest High School in Memphis, Hardy lettered in basketball and track in addition to football. He was honorable mention all state in basketball. As a high school senior, he played both ways on the football field, catching 48 passes in addition to his stalwart defensive play. He's just 26.
Hardy was convicted of assaulting and threatening to kill Holder in July 2014 by a North Carolina judge. He appealed the conviction and sought a jury trial. In February, as that trial was scheduled to begin, the charges against Hardy were dismissed. Holder hadn't been in touch with prosecutors since November, according to the Charlotte Observer, and they couldn't put on a case without her testimony. Her statements to police may have been inconsistent, according to unnamed "legal experts around town" paraphrased by the Charlotte paper. There was no risk of further civil action with regard to the alleged assault, prosecutors said, because Holder and Hardy had reached a financial settlement. Civil settlements don't reach the standard required to prove witness tampering in North Carolina, according to the Observer.
Hardy signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys. It's technically worth $750,000, though he can earn up to $13.1 million after incentives.