How much longer is the NFL going to put up with Greg Hardy?

There are some players, no matter how talented they are, that just should not be playing in the National Football League (see Rice, Ray). Greg Hardy is quickly putting himself into that same category as someone who the NFL does not need playing.

Greg HardyIt was well documented this offseason that Hardy was in a court battle over his domestic abuse incident involving his girlfriend. Hardy received a 10-game suspension from the NFL for the 2015 season, which he appealed and was then reduced to four games.

Hardy has been back on the field for only a limited time and he has made his presence felt. He picked up eight tackles and three sacks in his last two contests. However, it has been the impact Hardy has made off the field that is much more noticeable.

Obviously, Hardy is a man with character issues. Anyone who assaults his girlfriend and then defends it as if it wasn’t his fault has character issues. That was a risk for the Cowboys as soon as they signed him. Hardy is certainly a controversial figure but Dallas seemed to brush that aside.

Convincing yourself that you will be able to control a volatile player is a poor idea. The Cowboys clearly thought they had a handle on Hardy and boy were they wrong.

Somehow, Hardy walked away from this without a fine, suspension or any punishment from the team. That has to leave most fans scratching their heads and wondering why.

Well at least the Cowboys aren’t praising him for this kind of behavior, right?

Hold the phone, after all of that, Dallas not only isn’t having a reaction to Greg Hardy’s outburst, they want to give him a contract extension? Jerry Jones has seriously lost his mind here. In watching that first video of Hardy’s outburst from last Sunday, it is clear that he is a locker room cancer. He got into a fight with star wide receiver Dez Bryant over the issue. It seemed as though Bryant was telling Hardy that he was out of line and needed to respect the coaches. Bryant has never been the best at following team rules so if he thinks that Hardy is overboard then you know something is wrong.

It also shows how much Hardy only thinks about himself. He isn’t a team player at all and decided to take his anger out on a coach. If I were the Cowboys front office, I would’ve already suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team. Hardy is a menace of a player and not in a positive way.

If Dallas is unwilling to make the proper decision here, then the NFL needs to step in. Verbal confrontation with a coach is one thing but Hardy’s physical retaliation should be more than enough to warrant at least a fine. In all honesty, Hardy shouldn’t even be playing right now in the first place because his suspension should never have been overturned so I’m surprised that the league isn’t jump all over this situation.

Making excuses for players that have talent coupled with poor attitude can tear apart a team. We saw it happen to the 2012 Jets with Santonio Holmes. Jim Harbaugh turned out to alienate the entire locker room last year. Brandon Marshall even took shots at Jay Cutler over the last two years. Team’s can implode if they are distracted off the field issues. The Cowboys already sit at 2-5. You would think they’d realize that they need to turn things around.

It is not easy to punish a top player like Hardy when he is doing so much for your team on the field. But the Cowboys need to step up and take a stand. If they let this continue, Hardy becomes bigger than the team and gets to play by his own rules.

I’m tired of watching Greg Hardy be a bully. Hopefully, the NFL is too.

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What was Greg Hardy thinking?

Complain all you want about Brady’s suspension being overturned or celebrate it. Either is appropriate in this situation. However, Greg Hardy got the wrong impression from Brady’s suspension being overturned. No one should be complaining about his suspension and that includes Hardy.

Greg Hardy
Hardy recently signed a 1-year, incentive laden contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Hardy, who is set to miss the first four games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He violated it for his involvement in a domestic abuse case back in April of 2014. He missed all but one game of the 2014 season on the commissioner’s exempt list and now will miss four more this year. However, once he heard about Brady’s suspension being vacated, he considered pushing for another appeal to turn over his own suspension.

The fact that Hardy thought he should have a fair chance of having his suspension vacated now based on what happened to Brady. There are a lot of things that don’t add up and make that notion both laughable and despicable.

Firstly, Brady’s suspension was overturned because the NFL doled out his punishment with no form of hard evidence. In Hardy’s situation, that was not the case. He was convicted of assault and found guilty in court. He received 18 months probation instead of 60 days in prison, which already showed some leniency. Then, his charges were later dismissed after a civil suit agreement with the accuser. He might have missed 15 games on the commissioner’s list, but he was still being paid for all of the games he missed. The NFL never officially gave Hardy a punishment and now these four games are the punishment he deserves. On top of all of that, the league actually suspended Hardy for 10 games initially, which he appealed and that resulted in the four game suspension.

Say whatever you want about Tom Brady being a cheater or having a tainted legacy. It does not matter. He was accused of cheating in a game of football. Bad, yes. But on the same level and physical assaulting a women? Absolutely not. Somehow though, Hardy equated those two things in his head and decided that if Brady got off, then he should too.

That idea is ridiculous. Where on Earth did Hardy get the idea that fans or a judge/jury were going to support his claim that he did not deserve his punishment. During his trial, “the accuser testified that she was assaulted by Hardy at his apartment after a night of drinking. She also said Hardy threatened to kill her and put his hands around her neck,” according to ESPN reports. Brady’s four games were for deflating footballs. Hardy’s are for threatening a women’s life. Those don’t equate on any level so Hardy should consider himself lucky that he only has to face the four games.

Hardy’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus stayed very involved with the situation.

Hardy, thankfully, decided to hold off on appealing again. That shows some recognition that the two situations were not similar but the fact that Hardy had the intentions to shows that we still have a long way to go with teaching NFL players what is acceptable. Hardy believed that he had served his punishment for a domestic violence scandal even though he was paid during the time that he was held off the field. In his mind, he came up with the idea that deflating footballs and assaulting a women were comparable. Obviously, he would never admit to that but by simply saying that the outcome for Brady could change his situation means that he made some parallel between the two.

It shows that the NFL has a long way to go before they finally teach their players that domestic violence will simply not be tolerated. Players still think they can find their way out of suspensions or at the very least negotiate their way down from where they start because it’s just domestic violence. You can maintain that it isn’t true but that is the message that the league and it’s players send when they fail to properly react to these types to situations.

Hardy made the right decision to accept his punishment in the end. I have to commend him for that much. I just really wish he had never even brought up a second appeal. Had he really put his efforts into having his suspension vacated, their would have been a big uproar and I can guarantee you that I would have been part of it.

He got off without jail time, he still got paid and he had his initial suspension reduced. Hardy couldn’t have asked for much more and the fact that he almost did bothers me. I can only hope that the time comes where the NFL no longer has to deal with these types of situations. It will take some time but it is a day that we will accept with open arms.

FIFA is falling apart

If you are having a bad day, just think about how FIFA’s day has gone. You wake up in your hotel in Switzerland room preparing for a big conference full of board elections and then the FBI comes crashing in to arrest 14 of your members. That’s how FIFA’s day started today.

Yup, the United States made it all the way to Zurich, Switzerland to arrest nine FIFA officials and an additional five board members on counts of corruption, conspiracy and racketeering. The issue calls into question the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and business surrounding CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

Of those arrested is FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb, which is definitely not a good sign for the organization. Surprisingly, Sepp Blatter’s name has yet to come up as one of those arrested.

Sepp_BlatterWith how easily athletes seem to get off today for breaking the law and such, you might think this will blow over soon. It doesn’t seem like it though, as US attorney general Loretta Lynch was quoted when speaking about the charges in a statement from the Department of Justice. She explained that the charges indicate “corruption that is rampant, systematic and deep rooted both abroad and here in the United States.”

She went on to add that “it spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” How many millions you might ask? Lynch mentioned $110 million in bribes just surround the 2016 Copa America tournament.

So no, this is not just going to blow over. FIFA has a gun to its head at the moment and is definitely starting to sweat. Reportedly, already two corporations and four individual defendants have pled guilty and more are sure to come.

“Today’s announcement should send a message that enough is enough,” said Acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York Kelly T. Currie.  “After decades of what the indictment alleges to be brazen corruption, organized international soccer needs a new start.” It seems like the US government is intent on reworking FIFA.

And Currie has a point. Sepp Blatter’s being up for election as President for the fifth consecutive time, FIFA’s treatment of Brazilian laws in the months leading up to the 2014 World Cup and the rumblings of corruption surrounding the next two World Cups dictate enough cause to start fresh.

World Cup StampAnd you can expect more from this too. Currie added at the end of her statement, “Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation.” That is a daunting prospect for FIFA. And the pressure isn’t just coming from the US either. Swiss officials were the ones that made the physical arrests in Zurich on behalf of the FBI. Following that, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General announced that it would conducting a separate investigation of the voting process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Two different countries investigating you for corruption. Yikes. Definitely not a good sign. But FIFA continues to go on as if nothing is wrong. FIFA’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs Walter de Gregorio held a press conference earlier today at which he announced FIFA’s plan to proceed with preparations for both World Cups. FIFA also issued a press release, which details the many ways that FIFA is cooperating and reiterated its excitement at energy surrounding the investigation.

The funny thing is that what FIFA has done in response only makes me hate them more. Rather than acknowledge that yeah, this is an issue, it is content to sit back and act as if nothing is wrong. FIFA doesn’t even react to say that it is surprised by the arrests and will do whatever it can to help. It includes a line that indicates that it feels the investigation is redundant. And what organization announces its excitement that it is being investigated for corruption?

The whole situation is insane. It was only a matter of time before FIFA fell. Foreign governments have been on their heels for years and the ugly side of FIFA continues to be revealed. Corruption is part of its DNA at this point. There is no denying it with the number of scandals that have broken into the news that involve one FIFA executive or another. This seems to be the day of reckoning for FIFA but will it be enough?

There is no doubt in my mind that FIFA needs a fresh start. The problem is that it needs to start with the replacement of Sepp Blatter, who is widely expected to win reelection. Here’s to hoping that the Department of Justice comes up with some damning evidence against him in the next 24 hours or that these new allegations are enough to taint Blatter’s name (because somehow it’s not tainted enough) to the point where he would lose the election. Unlikely, but one can dream. Just imagine what FIFA without Sepp Blatter could be. I think it needs to happen as soon as possible. Even if Blatter isn’t behind all of this, holding on to an old regime rampant with it is not a great way to begin moving forward.

It continues to become harder to support the NFL

Roger_GoodellI love PTI. Tony Kornhesier and Michael Wilbon may be the best duo in recent sports broadcasting history. I was shocked yesterday to hear Wilbon bring up the idea of Roger Goodell losing his post as commissioner of the NFL. Well that isn’t the shocking part, I’ve been saying Goodell needs to go for a while now. What caught me off guard was the reason why Goodell would be let go. For punishing the Patriots. Not for the botched Ray Rice case or the on-going Adrian Peterson saga, but for Deflategate.

Ironically, out of all of the massive controversies involving the NFL this season, I thought Goodell did his best work in handling the deflated ball scandal. He left himself out of the investigation and then made a ruling that clearly sent a message that this sort of conduct would not be tolerated. He might have been a little harsh, but with all the leniency Goodell provided in regards to Rice and Peterson, he might have felt a little bit pressured. To me, Goodell did his job, and did it well.

Robert_KraftApparently, Patriots owner Robert Kraft does not share the same sentiment. His long-time friend is now openly criticizing Goodell. Kraft felt that the punishments were undue and not formulated in concrete evidence. Wilbon’s point was that through all of the other adversity the league faced this year, Goodell always had the backing of the owners. Now, he might have lost that, because the ruling directly affected one of them. Wilbon pointed out that Kraft could push for Goodell’s tenure to end the next time he is up for election, which is in 2018. Wilbon noted that is unlikely that anything would happen before then, but he would not be surprised if the end for Goodell was in the near future.

All this really shows is how callous, corrupt and greedy the NFL has become. They are willing to back the commissioner through domestic abuse issues and bounty scandals so long as he continues to deliver profits. The NFL made a ridiculous 9.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2013, which breaks down to about 261.5 million dollars per team. The owners get to stay rich as long as the money keeps flowing in. The league compensates Goodell pretty handsomely as well, more than 44 million dollars last year to be exact. Goodell has proven to be a strong business partner for the NFL. As long as he kept generating revenue, the owners would be more than willing to weather whatever storm Goodell brought with it.

Now though, faced with a situation where a team, and to a further extent an owner, took the brunt of the penalty from Goodell’s actions, the owners are ready to run him out. It shows on one level that the owners value the brand of the team and the money made way more than they value the players. The Ravens were in full compliance with suspending Rice and the Vikings openly supported Goodell with his plans for Peterson. The Patriots are furious about losing Tom Brady for four games but seem to be more enraged by the docking of draft picks and heavy fine. At least that’s my perception.

Goodell, in doing his job how he saw fit, might actually find himself looking for a new employer. He has made many a mistake in his handling of so many different cases. He has bordered on corrupt at times, with his mostly unchecked use of power to hand out suspensions and fines. And the owners have supported him through all of it. The league is willing to be corrupt as long as corrupt pays. The NFL is all about making money. I as a fan find this disheartening because I can see it in more places than just this. The steady rise in ticket prices, the removal of blackouts, the increased number of sponsors and the continual blind eye turned to player safety. The bottom line is all in the profit. The league makes its moves based on how much it can stand to gain from them.

It makes it hard to support a league that has so many major flaws. That is run by a system that continually fails its players and fans. That allows for inhumane behavior and repeatedly breeds violations of the law. That is more focused on the bottom line than the product. Greed runs the NFL. This is a league that is out to make as much money as possible, despite inexplicably being listed as a non-profit. There needs to be a change in the NFL and how it is run. It pushes me to the point where I do not know how much longer I can support the league. I simply do not want to get behind an organization that continues to disappoint and deteriorate. On the bright side, I would probably have a lot more time to watch PTI.

Major League Baseball has laid out the blueprint

So now the question is, when does everyone else start catching up? Major League Baseball suspended four different pitchers in the past 2-plus weeks for use of a steroid called stanozolol. Popular among body builders, the drug reportedly helps athletes lose fat while maintaining lean body mass. Ervin Santana, David Rollins, Arodys Vizcaino and Jenrry Mejia all tested positive for the steroid under the new MLB anti-doping policy. The league also announced they will be investigating the repeated appearance of the drug, using the 2013 Biogenesis investigation as a model. Clearly, MLB has made major strides in its handling of steroid usage and cases showing an initiative to clean up the league.

Despite the obvious success MLB has seen since the implementation of the new system, other professional sporting leagues have yet to follow. The NFL has some basic steroid testing in place but not to the full extent possible. The NBA and NHL have relatively weak systems that do not pose much of a threat to players who are using these drugs. Each of them have clearly outlined systems but none of them are being enforced anywhere close to as heavily. Let’s go through some basic comparisons.

Roger_Goodell

NFL
The NFL is probably next in line behind MLB but they are still fairly far behind. Players are subjected to random drug testing during the season. If a player were to test positive for steroids, HGH or stimulants, they would immediately receive a 4-game suspension. On a second offense, players are suspended for ten games and a third offense results in a minimum two-year ban from the league and all related activity. Players have to apply for reinstatement as well following the minimum two years. If a player tests positive for stimulants during the offseason, they are referred to the league substance abuse program. The NFL also does a relatively good job of enforcing the drug policy, with roughly 100 players suspended since 2010. The HGH testing is new for the league though, which shows they are still conscious that the policy can be tweaked and improved.

Adam_Silver

NBA
The NBA seems to have a solid program in place. NBA players are subjected to a reasonable number of tests per season with four random tests during the course of the league year. Players can even be tested on reasonable cause, determined by a third-party expert. However, the penalties are pretty minor with a first offense resulting in only a ten game suspension. A second offense means the player only earns a 25-game ban and a third offense results in a yearlong ban. A fourth offense would result in a permanent ban from the league. That is all well and good, except when you look at the numbers. The NBA has suspended exactly three players since 2010 for violating the NBA drug policy. That includes drugs of abuse and other illegal substances outside of steroids. Those numbers are not too high when you compare them to anywhere else.

Gary_Bettman

NHL
Hockey, like basketball, has never really gripped the nation with a major drug scandal. The NHL does a fairly good job of testing as many players as possible. Each player is subjected to two unannounced drug tests per season and one of them must be a team-wide test. The number of tests is on the smaller side unfortunately but the punishment is better than the NBA and probably on par with the NFL. A first-time offender receives a 20 game suspension, a second offense results in a 60-game suspension and a third offense is a permanent suspension. Like the NFL, players can apply for reinstatement after the minimum two years are served. The league does not crack down too much on players. They have only suspended three players under the new performance enhancing drug policy, but it was only launched last year.

Rob_Manfred

MLB
It is rare that I think baseball is truly way ahead of the curve when it comes to the major sports in the United States, but for steroid testing, it isn’t even close. Every year at the start of spring training, each player is subjected to a urine and blood test. The league then randomly chooses 3,200 urine and 260 blood tests of random players throughout the course of the season to catch those who begin doping following the spring training tests. The league also selects certain urine tests to undergo carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis. MLB, like the NBA allows reasonable cause testing, something the NFL and NHL have not yet implemented as far as I could find in the bylaws. MLB is also much harsher with its punishments. The league hands out an 80-game suspension following a first offense and a season-long suspension after a second offense. A third offense will result in a permanent ban with a minimum of two years required before a player can request reinstatement. MLB has suspended 19 players since May of 2012 and that doesn’t include 5 minor leaguers as well.

Overall, there is still clearly cheating in American sports due to performance enhancing drugs. Baseball has taken the right initiative with the intensive measures used in its testing. The key thing that MLB has that other sports desperately lack is the public shame that comes with steroid use. Dozens of players have been held out of the Hall of Fame due to their checkered past with steroids. It creates a major stigma for the player and MLB is continuing to enforce the image that steroids make you a cheater. The NFL does not do that, often refraining from using the word steroids, opting instead to refer to them as performance enhancing drugs. The idea is still the same, but the stigma that comes with being called a steroid user is just not there. The NBA’s and NHL’s rate of suspending players is a joke.

And none of this seems to be a problem for them. According to an article from ESPN, NBA general counsel, Rick Buchanan, was quoted saying, “We think we have a program that is as good as any other in pro sports.” That is the underlying issue. No one is putting enough pressure on these other leagues to make a change. Fans agonized over MLB’s faulty system until they made some major improvements, and now the league has easily the best anti-doping program of any American sport. We might all like to think that these leagues will strive for change on their own, but without a little push from their fans, there is no chance that the NBA, NFL or NHL make the necessary moves to truly fight steroid use in American sports.