It is undeniable that the NFL is a violent sport, as pointed out by many former NFL players who are dealing with long term brain damage from their time in the League. But the issue that seems to be most polarizing right now is about violence off the field, specifically domestic abuse.
On May 13, 2014, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested for threatening and assaulting his ex-girlfriend, as he allegedly threw her against a tile wall and strangled her. Two months later he was found guilty by a judge and sentenced to 18 months of probation. Hardy, however, went on to request a jury trial, to which his ex-girlfriend never appeared, so his charges were dropped. Along with him getting his charges taken away, the NFL reduced his suspension for the 2015 season from 10 games to four games.
And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Also in 2014, Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught on video punching his then fiancé in the face, knocking her out. Charges were eventually dropped, and Rice was suspended for only two games. The leniency shown to Greg Hardy and other players such as Ray Rice from both the justice system and the NFL has caused a lot of unrest about the preferential treatment that professional athletes receive, and the lack of protection this offers women.
Greg Hardy signed with the Cowboys over the offseason and after serving his four game suspension is now starting for them. There are a lot of mixed opinions about him being allowed to still play in the NFL after the incident. Most people who don’t follow the NFL aren’t too opinionated about him being able to play, but are more frustrated about how no legal action came against him. For NFL fans it is a more complex issue.
Most fans realize that what he did was detestable, but since he is so successful they also feel like it is wasteful to not let a player with so much talent play. General managers are put in a similarly tough position, as a player like Greg Hardy is good enough to play on any team. Some managers aren’t willing to pursue signing him because of what he did, but it was only a matter of time until a team signed him. The Cowboys gave him another chance to play, which upset a lot of people, but ultimately the NFL is a business, and that’s how the Cowboys saw it. Without regard for what Hardy did, it will be interesting to see how he performs coming off of the controversy.