Apart from the question of whether the NFL applied the new Personal Conduct Policy retroactively to Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy is the question of whether he violated the policy. At his hearing in May, the NFL Players Association attacked the quality of the evidence that resulted in the the conclusion that multiple violations occurred — but Hardy himself didn’t testify.
Page 9 of the 12-page ruling from arbitrator Harold Henderson, a copy of which PFT has obtained, states that “Hardy was present for the entire appeal hearing but declined to testify.”
Hardy’s decision to say nothing says plenty. If he’s innocent, he should have made his case directly to Henderson. But that would have exposed Hardy to cross-examination from the NFL. Which quite possibly would have made things worse than Hardy not testifying at all.
Henderson also notes that Lisa Friel, the principal author of a 92-page investigation report that led to Hardy’s 10-game suspension, “was present during the appeal hearing but was not called to testify about the details of the investigation she headed.”
The decision of Hardy’s representatives neither to let Hardy tell his story nor to grill Friel about an investigation they deemed flawed has no relevance to the question of whether the NFL applied a new policy retroactively to Hardy. But it likely will keep any objective observers from concluding that Hardy didn’t violate the policy by assaulting his ex-girlfriend in May 2014.
The decision not to have Hardy or Friel testify operates as a practical matter as a concession that a violation occurred. The only question at this point is whether he’ll miss four games without pay because of it, or whether Hardy will successfully sue for a reduction to two games, the standard penalty for a first-offense domestic violence offense before the Ray Rice case forced the NFL to dramatically alter the rules.