When the Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy, the Cowboys knew what he’d been accused of doing. Even if they hadn’t seen the photos of its aftermath.
Now, the Cowboys have the visual evidence. But with pictures only of the natural consequences of a large, athletic man assaulting a smaller, weaker woman, it’s easy for the Cowboys to reiterate, as owner Jerry Jones did on Friday night, that the team gave Hardy a “second chance,” and that the photos of the injuries are simply part of the second chance Hardy received.
Without video of Hardy actually doing what the Cowboys, the NFL, and everyone else now know he did, the Cowboys can continue to take the position that it’s all part of Hardy’s second chance. But if TMZ were to publish on Saturday video evidence of the assault that we know occurred, Jones would change his tune in a heartbeat.
That’s precisely what the Ravens did once video emerged of what the Ravens knew Ray Rice had done to his then-fiancée. He’d knocked her out. We knew he’d knocked her out. We were capable of imagining what a pro athlete knocking out a woman looked like. But without video it was easy to embrace Rice, as the Ravens did on their website after he received a two-game suspension.
Once the video came out, the Ravens cut him (even though they’d known what he did), the league suspended him again (but lost on appeal), and Rice thereafter has been shunned by the NFL.
In contrast, Adrian Peterson was embraced by the Vikings despite photographs of the injuries inflicted on his young son during a disciplinary session. With video of Peterson spanking a four-year-old boy until his skin broke and bled, the months of March through May wouldn’t have been about the Vikings persuading Peterson to give the team a second chance; Peterson would have been the one pleading for it.
Lack of video of the incident — even of an incident that we know happened — has become the key to obtaining a second chance. If, for example, there were video of Mike Vick drowning, electrocuting, and/or slamming to the ground dogs deemed unfit to fight other dogs, he never would have gotten a second chance with the Eagles or anyone else in 2009. Absent video, we know what he did but we don’t have to look at what he did, which allows the second chance to occur.
So Hardy still gets his second chance. If video were to emerge, the second chance would disappear.
But there isn’t and won’t be video, which makes it easier for the Cowboys to remain steadfast in their position to let him play. Even if they know what he did and are able to picture it. Without the actual pictures of it, they can get away with keeping him around.