Charles Barkley: Greg Hardy Was Wrong, but He Needs Help, Not More Punishment

Charles BarkleySpecial to Bleacher ReportNovember 10, 2015

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy (76) looks on from the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. Seattle won 13-12. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

I need to get this off my chest.

I don't know Greg Hardy. I'm not sure I like Greg Hardy. And I'm damned sure I know I don't want Greg Hardy dating my daughter. Let me be clear: Domestic violence is 100 percent wrong. In this case, Hardy went through the judicial system. We need to find a way to stop giving up on black men. We need to get Hardy psychological help, similar to how Brandon Marshall faced up to his particular issues.

I know what Greg Hardy allegedly did to Nicole Holder in 2014 when he played in Charlotte. I know what she said in the restraining order she got against him: "Greg Hardy attacked me in his apartment. Hardy picked me up and threw me into the tile tub area in his bathroom. I have bruises from head to toe, including my head, neck, back, shoulders, arms, legs, elbow and feet. Hardy pulled me from the tub by my hair, screaming at me that he was going to kill me, break my arms and other threats that I completely believe. ... Hardy choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded. Landing on those weapons bruised my neck and back."

I know that Greg Hardy was initially convicted by a Charlotte judge, who said at the time, "The court is entirely convinced Hardy is guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats." But I also know that Hardy appealed the verdict, which he was allowed to do under North Carolina law, and asked for a jury trial—and that the case was ultimately dismissed after Holder stopped cooperating with prosecutors, who said later that Hardy and Holder worked out a settlement.

I know that what Holder did is not unusual, that battered women often wind up not going through with charging partners with domestic violence because it is so hard to get a conviction and that the battered person often becomes the one put on trial. I know that women (men get beat up, too, but many more women do) feel that they or their kids or both can't count on real protection from the police or prosecutors when they're being abused or stalked, so they often don't seek out the cops.

Greg Hardy initially was charged with assault in 2014 before the case was dismissed after appeal when Hardy's accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors.
Greg Hardy initially was charged with assault in 2014 before the case was dismissed after appeal when Hardy's accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors.Chris Keane/Associated Press/Associated Press
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I know that the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted in 2010 concluded that 20 people are victims of physical violence by a spouse or partner every minute. Every minute. I know that race and sex are big factors in who gets charged, and convicted.

I know that the NFL originally suspended Hardy for the first 10 games of this season after the initial conviction, but that the suspension was reduced to four games after Hardy appealed, and that he's back on the field for the Cowboys, and that he doesn't appear to be very sorry for what he did.

I know that there are people—columnists and players like the Eagles' Jason Kelce, who said "it is a joke" that Hardy is back on the field so soon—who believe that Hardy should be kicked out of the NFL. And I know that some of y'all don't give a damn what I think or will say I shouldn't speak out on this.

But I know what I believe. And I believe Greg Hardy deserves a chance—to get better.

I believe some other things, too.

For people to start going crazy a year-and-a-half later, because they saw the pictures of Holder's injuries after she was allegedly assaulted by Hardy; I'm disturbed by that. We all agree that the pictures were awful. What is supposed to happen next? If you say he can't play football anymore, what happens to him?

I believe that there are way too many black men we've just thrown away. Between mandatory minimum sentences, overworked public defenders and a whole lot of other reasons, there are too many black men behind bars. And when they get out, they don't have a chance—to get a job, to buy a house, to vote.

Ray Rice publicly apologized to his wife Janay after he was charged with assaulting her shortly before they were married.
Ray Rice publicly apologized to his wife Janay after he was charged with assaulting her shortly before they were married.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Again, I believe that domestic violence is 100 percent wrong. You should never hit a woman. But I also believe Greg Hardy needs a chance to get better—not as a football player; as a human being. He needs psychological help so he can be a better man. I hope Greg Hardy doesn't let me down, but more importantly, I hope he doesn't let himself down. He needs to be willing to admit the problem and be accepting of treatment.

Greg Hardy has gotten away with a lot—because he's a good football player, and because he's got access to good attorneys. He hasn't gone to jail, and he's still on the field, playing for an owner who's backing him up. He needs to take a look in the mirror and realize how lucky he's been. He needs to get real and serious about expressing his remorse to Nicole Holder—the way Ray Rice did after he knocked out his then-fiancee and now wife Janay in that elevator in Atlantic City last year.

Brandon Marshall has openly discussed how his mental health struggles affected his behavior toward people off the football field.
Brandon Marshall has openly discussed how his mental health struggles affected his behavior toward people off the football field.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Brandon Marshall allegedly had multiple physical altercations with women, and his wife stabbed him one time. He has said his life was out of control. He said he had some mental issues, and he got some help. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He didn't get better overnight; it took some time. As an athlete, he equated asking for help with weakness. Now he speaks out on mental issues, and he's helping other people. Why can't Hardy get a chance to get better? He has an obvious problem, one that deserves attention.

But we can't get mad every time the system doesn't work the way we want it to work. It's like, go back to the O.J. Simpson thing. Rich people get away with crap all the time. But when the brother screws the system, uses the system, all hell breaks loose. He's not the first person to beat the system, and he won't be the last.

I believe we can't just discard people when they screw up. If Greg Hardy screws up again, I'll help him pack his ass out of Dallas, and he should never play another game the NFL if he ever puts his hands on a woman again.

But before that can happen, shouldn't we get him some help, instead of kicking him out of the NFL? Shouldn't we do everything possible to prevent it from happening again

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