On Wednesday, the NFL suspended Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy 10 games. On Friday, the NFLPA filed a formal appeal of the suspension.
Per a league source, the appeal officially was filed Friday night. It’s believed that the appeal will focus on the application of the new Personal Conduct Policy standards and processes retroactively to conduct that occurred before the NFL dramatically altered its approach to domestic violence cases.
The league, learning from a lawsuit filed by Adrian Peterson that resulted in a ruling that the new standard can’t apply retroactively, claims that the suspension was imposed under the former policy. However, it’s obvious that the post-Ray Rice realities of the NFL influenced dramatically a situation that has resulted in Hardy missing 15 games with pay in 2014 and 10 games in 2015 for a first offense that resulted in no criminal liability, due to a civil settlement reached with his accuser, Nicole Holder. Indeed, Hardy played last year in Week One — and then the Ray Rice elevator video was released, and everything changed.
Under the former policy and procedure, a first-time offender typically received a two-game suspension without pay. In this specific case, the NFL has separated the incident into four separate violations; in connection with the appeal, the NFLPA undoubtedly will explore whether the NFL took one general incident and broke it into subsets that were then disciplined individually.
According to the source, the appeal also asks the NFL to designate a neutral arbitrator. The league agreed to use a neutral arbitrator in the appeal of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension in 2014, but the league declined to appoint a neutral arbitrator in the appeal of Adrian Peterson’s suspension. While the neutral arbitrator overturned the Rice suspension as a second punishment for the same conduct that had previously resulted in a two-game suspension, the neutral arbitrator also noted that the NFL could have imposed an indefinite suspension in the first place.