With a judge finding Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy guilty on Tuesday of assault on a female and communicating threats, Hardy would seem to be in line for punishment from the NFL under the personal-conduct policy. That may not be the case.
Hardy’s situation is complicated by the two-step process in North Carolina that allowed him to stand trial before a judge and then, if convicted, before a jury. As a result, the case has not been resolved yet.
That’s an important factor under the policy, because a first-time offender ordinarily doesn’t face action “until there has been a disposition of the proceeding.” While that may or may not delay discipline until a player convicted at a jury trial has exhausted all appeals, it would seem to prevent the league from taking action against Hardy in the wake of Tuesday’s outcome.
Then again, the league can do whatever it wants. For now, the NFL is monitoring the situation. If the NFL determines based on, for example, a review of Tuesday’s transcript that the case presents “egregious circumstances, significant bodily harm or risk to third parties,” a suspension can be imposed for a first offense.
Also, keep in mind that the Panthers separately could take action against Hardy, suspending him up to four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and saving more than $770,000 per week under his $13.1 million franchise tender for 2014.