The Cowboys aren’t saying whether they saw the photos from the Greg Hardy criminal case before signing him to a contract. The NFL is acknowledging that the league indeed had access to multiple photos generated by the incident.
According to the league office, NFL investigators obtained photos from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department along with seven photographs that had been provided to the District Attorney by a non-law enforcement source. (The NFL filed a lawsuit to obtain those seven photos.)
The photos were obtained subject to a protective order, which expressly limited their dissemination to the league, the NFL Players Association, Hardy, and any attorneys, investigators, and expert witnesses working on Hardy’s case. The protective order generated in connection with the seven photos from a non-law enforcement source does not authorize the league to share the photos with any team(s) considering the possibility of signing Hardy to a contract.
A separate protective order was entered in connection with the photos provided by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; presumably, that document also did not allow the league to give the pictures to any team that may hire Hardy.
As to whether the Cowboys saw any photos, the league referred PFT to the Cowboys. The Cowboys separately have declined comment.
If the protective order kept the Cowboys from reviewing the photos before signing him, the question becomes whether they wouldn’t have signed him if they’d seen the photos — and in turn whether they will continue to employ him now that they have.
The league relied on the photos in determining that Hardy should receive a 10-game suspension. On appeal filed by the NFL Players Association, the suspension was reduced to four games by the NFL’s hand-picked hearing officer, former league office employee Harold Henderson.