Count ESPN's Michelle Beadle among those unhappy with her network after it released a sit-down interview with NFL free agent Greg Hardy in which he denied hitting an ex-girlfriend who accused him of assault.
Clips from the interview with ESPN's Adam Schefter prompted broad and immediate criticism. Some highlighted Hardy's seeming lack of remorse, others questioned why ESPN chose Schefter to conduct the interview and nearly everyone wondered what the piece aimed to accomplish.
Beadle addressed the controversy Tuesday on her SportsNation program, saying she feels "dirty" that ESPN gave Hardy a platform (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk):
I feel dirty in that this guy has no job right now, and for some reason we’ve decided as a network that we’re going to give him the stage for his redemption tour as he basically goes out and tries to find some employment. I don’t understand why we’re doing that. If he wants to figure out a way to get his message out there—which by the way, he hasn’t said he did anything wrong, so how a man is supposed to convince anybody he’s changed and yet not admit to actually doing anything? I have no idea. But why we’re giving him the forum to go out there and tell anybody that is where I’m a little bit confused.
Beadle has long been among ESPN's most outspoken employees. She has consistently ripped boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his history of domestic abuse and took colleague Stephen A. Smith to task for his thoughts on the Ray Rice situation.
Hardy, 27, spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys. He missed all but one game of the 2014 season and was suspended for the first four games of 2015 because of the domestic violence case at issue now. Initially convicted of abusing ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, Hardy had his conviction overturned on appeal when the alleged victim didn't show up to court.
"Pictures are pictures, and they can be made to look like whatever they want to," Hardy told Schefter, per ESPN.com, regarding images apparently showing bruising on Holder's body. "I didn't say I didn't do anything wrong. That situation occurred and that situation was handled, but as a man you can't avoid situations that aren't your fault or are your fault."
Holder released a statement asking for privacy following Hardy's interview, per ESPN.com. Hardy has not had any reported contact with an NFL team this offseason. He recorded 35 tackles and six sacks in 12 games last season in Dallas.
ESPN has not indicated whether Beadle will be reprimanded for her comments.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.