Taking a look at Greg Hardy’s options

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Now that arbitrator Harold Henderson has reduced the 10-game suspension imposed on Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy by Commissioner Roger Goodell to four games, the question becomes whether Hardy will continue the fight.

Before Henderson’s ruling, Hardy was fully committed to fighting anything more than a two-game suspension. Now that he has picked up six games through an internal appeal process that many expected to result in a rubber-stamping of Goodell’s decision, the analysis changes a bit.

So let’s consider Hardy’s options. With numbers and stuff.

1. Do nothing.

Hardy can accept the four-game suspension, which means he’d show up for training camp and the preseason, exit the team for four weeks, return on the Monday after the Week Four game against the Falcons, and get ready to face the Patriots (who may or may not have Tom Brady) in Week Five.

2. Sue and seek a preliminary injunction.

Hardy and the NFLPA believe that the suspension should have been only two games under the Personal Conduct Policy that applied in May 2014, when the incident between Hardy and his ex-girlfriend occurred. Henderson’s convoluted ruling seemed to pick four games out of thin air, obtusely pretending that the NFL didn’t change the Personal Conduct Policy in the aftermath of the Ray Rice case.

The argument is fairly simple: Rice got two games for knocking out his then-fiancée. Under that standard, the Hardy and the NFLPA can argue in federal court that he should have gotten the same thing.

Given that Henderson took 43 days to reach a ruling that could have been issued a lot sooner than that, Hardy and the NFLPA now have limited time to get a ruling on his availability for the third and fourth games of the season before Week Two ends. Which means that the lawsuit could be accompanied by a motion for preliminary injunction, aimed at allowing Hardy to return and play after missing two games, pending the outcome of the court case.

There’s precedent for such a maneuver. Several years ago, Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams obtained a preliminary injunction when fighting their suspensions in the StarCaps case. (Ultimately, Pat Williams retired before the litigation ended and the suspension was implemented.) Under the notion that players who miss games can never go back and play those games if the suspension is later scrapped, a court could rule that Hardy should be permitted to serve two games and defer the next two games until his challenge is resolved.

The risk would be that the challenge would be resolved at an inopportune time for Hardy, like in January as the Cowboys prepare to chase postseason glory — and as Hardy prepares to make a high-profile closing argument for a gigantic contract on the open market. Or perhaps the case wouldn’t be resolved at all during the 2015 season, which would put the two-game suspension over Hardy’s head as he tries to get a new deal.

Which makes option three more attractive.

3. Sue and don’t seek a preliminary injunction.

Hardy can sue without seeking the right to play pending the outcome of the lawsuit. So he could challenge the suspension, serve the full four games if the case isn’t resolved by the middle of September, and thereafter continue to pursue compensation for the two extra games he missed.

If Hardy is thinking about not fighting the suspension at all, this is the nothing-to-lose version of that same approach. He’d still miss the games, but he could make the money, prove his point, and yet again show that the NFL consistently overreaches when it comes to disciplining players.

4. Sue, seek a preliminary injunction, and settle.

If Hardy is going to sue, there’s no reason not to seek a preliminary injunction — even if he’d rather miss Week Three and Week Four in lieu of having a two-game suspension hanging over him over the balance of the season (or after the season, which would make him less attractive on the open market).

The pursuit of a preliminary injunction has value from a settlement perspective. If Hardy makes a strong case for being permitted to play pending the outcome of the case, and if the judge makes it clear at the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction that the judge is inclined to let Hardy play while the case proceeds, Hardy could then try to settle the case, using the potential for a court order allowing him to play as leverage to get a better deal.

Whatever the approach, a decision is expected early this week. If a lawsuit is going to be filed, the paperwork could be put together fairly quickly. The only question is where the NFLPA would choose to file the suit.

33 responses to “Taking a look at Greg Hardy’s options

  1. He definitely should sue the NFL. That have no clue what they are doing. They make up punishments out of thin air, with zero logic behind them and do not follow any rules in place in the CBA.

    The NFL only goes to the CBA card when it benefits them. The rest of the time, they blatantly disregard the CBA, like in this example.

  2. Sue. The more times Goodell gets his butt handed to him in court, the greater chance the owners finally see him as a liability and kick him to the curb.

  3. He should take this deal and be quiet, the good ole’ boys network will reward him later.

  4. Also, it’s pretty sad that our federal court systems are back logged because idiots like those in the NFL front office don’t know their heads from their butts. The court system should be resolving real issues, not continuously fixing Roger’s mistakes.

  5. Mam enough of this the man got his suspension reduced , please let it go. Hardy let it go serve you four game and move on with you life , be a better person and teammate and learn for all this.

  6. I think what Hardy did was despicable and he deserves anything he gets. However, his suspension should only be two games because that’s what the rules were when he committed his crime. If he had only spent a fraction of time realizing that what he was about to do was incredibly wrong he wouldn’t have had to spend much time fighting the after-effects. My guess is that was not the first time he’s done something like that and probably won’t be the last. He’s not the sharpest pencil in the box after all.

  7. Tony is 35 years with back problems a terrible secondary and players like the woman beat are a cancer to any team. Tony still hasn’t even got to a championship game! It won’t ever happen either.haha

  8. Hardy, you already aren’t too popular here in DFW. Just keep a low profile, stay out of trouble and take your punishment. And don’t drive drunk in a flood and abandon a Bentley off the highway in downtown Dallas again. Because I know you were loaded to leave that car.

  9. What about the option of being greatful he has a second chance that he clearly doesn’t deserve and serve his four games?

  10. This may sound naive as hell, but I don’t think it’s really about the money. I think he feels as though he’s missed enough football: 15 games last season…for which he was paid, enough is enough!
    Or so he thinks.

  11. From the NFLPA’s perspective he has to sue. They don’t want to set a precedent were the league can change a policy and retroactively punish players for conduct that occurred prior to the change.

    Ultimately the decision is up to Hardy but as the article states he can always agree to serve the suspension and sue for monetary damages which due to end year performance bonuses could amount to more than just two missed game checks. For example if he missed out on a $1 million bonus by falling 1 or 2 sacks shut that may be in play. Hardy has nothing to lose.

  12. Shut up, keeps his hands off of women, get on his knees and be thankful for having another opportunity to make millions playing a game.

  13. @Thevikesarebest

    What happened the last 3 times the Vikings made it to the Championship? Oh, right, 3 of the biggest chokes in NFC playoff history.

  14. Don’t know why more people are not sympathetic towards Hardy and his “time off the field while on the commissioner’s exempt list” punishment he had to endure. That must have been really, really embarrassing to cash those checks every week while staying at home with his friends.

  15. thevikesarebest says:
    Jul 11, 2015 12:40 PM
    Tony is 35 years with back problems a terrible secondary and players like the woman beat are a cancer to any team. Tony still hasn’t even got to a championship game! It won’t ever happen either.haha

    Forgive me, I’m not trying to be rude, I just always seem to forget. Are the Vikings in the Pac-12 or the big 10?

  16. kcchefs58 says:
    Jul 11, 2015 12:12 PM
    Your pedestal awaits you, Internet lynch mob. Do your worst
    I know, the nerve of these people. Why can’t they just get off the back of this assaulting wife beating Cowboy. Gosh, they just won’t let it go.

  17. If one accepts the premise that the NFL needs to abide by its own rules then Hardy should be suspended 2 games. Brady should be fined $55k on precedent for not turning over his phone and maybe $25k if the NFL ever presents evidence that proves he was involved in tampering with a football. Or one should accept the premise that the NFL does not abide by its own rules in which case nobody should be penalized anything at all. Roger Goodell is a freaking joke. The man has no integrity whatsoever.

  18. I say he stands pat and takes the 4 games. Not sure but I think if he decides to sue he will have to pay for his own attorney if so now he has to see what that will cost. Take the 4 and stay quiet and thank Henderson for his somewhat awkward decision.

  19. I dont agree with his actionsbut its pretty cuy n dry that it should be 2 games!!!

  20. Honestly, I’m just tired of seeing stories about this guy wearing a Panthers uniform. I cannot wait for him to take the field so new pictures can be used and he’ll no longer be associated with our team.

    Stellar talent, less than stellar individual. He’s the kind of guy you wish you could pull for. If only he was half the person off the field as he is the player on the field.

  21. ” and yet again show that the NFL consistently overreaches when it comes to disciplining players.”

    This is pretty much the idea. You can tell them how to act, but you’re just a reporter. I can tell the NFL how to act, but I’m just a fan. A thousand commentators can tell them how to act, but they just represent the hundreds millions of fans worldwide. The league just doesn’t listen. Maybe if the courts set precedent state by state it’ll get better.

  22. Isn’t fighting why he is where he is today ?

    Perhaps if he did not beat his GF he would not be in any trouble at all

    Another fine human playing for Dallas win at all costs Jones

  23. bigbluefan1, why don’t you get a life. Take the high road for once, many people were sympathetic towards JPP and his misfortune, so give Hardy a break. It is better to lead, by a good example.

  24. Can someone please give me another example of a 6’4″ 275lbs man viciously beating a woman half his size without leaving a single mark? No one? Common sense, it’s good to have.

  25. Previously Hardy had said that he would fight anything more than 2 games which would appear to be based on what Rice got. So I look for Hardy to take action of some kind.

    The NFL digs these holes by not being consistent in punishment and letting people know upfront what the results of their actions will be. It gives the impression that it depends on who you are, what team you play for, and how much money they can make off you.

  26. He should sue and ask for 0 game suspension. Ray Rice plead guilty and was convicted of domestic violence before getting his 2 game suspension. Hardy pled not guilty and had the charges dismissed. Previously the absence of a conviction meant 0 games suspended.

    If a court is unsympathetic to that argument, Hardy should point out he missed 15 games already. Using the Troy Vincent recording from the Peterson case (where he said Peterson would get credit for games missed on suspension), at most Hardy should be looking for a fine equal to 2 of last year’s game checks. He should be on the field opening day with no further suspension hanging over his head.

  27. He said he’d take action if the suspension was anything over 2 games; he doesn’t appear to have done anything other than waffle since the decision came down. If he meant what he said, he should already have submitted the paperwork. He’s just looking for a way to go back on his word without looking bad and will use “on the advice of the NFL PA…” as that excuse.

    As for the 15 games he missed, he got paid quite well for them. I promise if you hand me a couple million to take a year off, I won’t complain. Everyone forgets that famous phrase that comes out when contracts and cuts happen: “It’s a business”. I’m pretty sure Hardy isn’t crying about missed time with a full bank account.

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