Maybe it's just verbal jujitsu. Maybe, when Greg Hardy, as he did Monday, says that he's never laid a hand on a woman, he means just that — that he's never laid a hand on a woman in the way that your uncle's congregation lays hands on members who've gone astray or need healing. But it's unlikely. Judging from the context and Hardy's history, it's likely that Hardy — the Dallas Cowboys free agent whom Jerry Jones is still murmuring about re-signing — meant for everyone to take his statement at face value. He meant he did not violently attack his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
"I've never put my hand on any women. In my whole entire life, No, sir. That's just not how we're raised. As you can tell, like I said again, it's the Bible Belt. It's just something that's, I wouldn't even say frowned upon, just something that's nonexistent in most Southern homes," Hardy told ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
After Schefter asked Hardy to clarify whether he meant that he'd done nothing wrong during the incident that left Holder badly bruised and telling police that she feared for her life, Hardy hedged a bit, but reiterated his innocence.
"I will stop you there and say that I didn't say that I didn't do anything wrong. That situation occurred and that situation was handled but saying that I did nothing wrong is a stretch, but saying I am innocent is correct. Yes, sir," Hardy said.
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In May 2014, Holder told Charlotte, North Carolina, police that Hardy treated her like a rag doll. He choked her, dragged her around his apartment and tossed her onto a couch that was covered in guns. Police photographed Holder's badly bruised body. Hardy was charged with and eventually convicted of assault, but that conviction was overturned on appeal when Holder refused to testify after reaching a settlement with Hardy.
Hardy played in one game in 2014 before the Cowboys signed him to an incentive-laden contract before the 2015 season. After his Dallas arrival, whenever Hardy was asked about the Holder assault, he deflected, insinuating that he was a victim of circumstance. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said "we still want to leave that open.'' when asked about the potential of Hardy returning on March 22, called him a leader and Hardy started every game after serving a four-game suspension to start the season.