ESPN reporter Adam Schefter sat down with free agent defensive end Greg Hardy for an interview that aired in full on ESPN on Tuesday. Hardy, who was the subject of domestic violence allegations in 2014, made headlines when he denied he ever hit a woman during the conversation with Schefter on Monday.
The interview received plenty of backlash, which Schefter responded to on Wednesday when he appeared on the Dennis and Callahan Show on Boston’s WEEI:
Sean Newell of Vice Sports shared some of the notable comments from Schefter, including the ESPN reporter's answer when the idea was brought up that Hardy’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had the free agent do the interview as a public relations move because of his free agency:
Well, again, I didn’t think about it like that. I thought about the fact that we’ve got a real serious issue in our society. This guy’s never addressed any of these issues that have come up. He’s never done it one on one and, yeah, I’m sure he came in with an agenda and so did I…He could have whatever agenda he wants, doesn’t matter to me. I’m going in there to get somebody who in my mind has been a controversial figure about a very serious subject to talk about it in a way that he’s never addressed it before.
Newell pointed out Schefter was the subject of some of the criticism surrounding the interview because he gave Hardy a platform to address a national audience with his “unchallenged” viewpoint of what happened at the time when he was accused of domestic violence.
Schefter was also criticized for saying Hardy has "changed," a comment he has since apologized for.
“That was a mistake on my part,” Schefter said during an appearance on WEEI (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “But I have no regrets about the interview or the questions we asked. None.”
While Schefter said Hardy has never addressed the incident in a one-on-one fashion, Newell countered with the fact the free agent had a number of chances to explain his side of what happened. Hardy had the opportunity to do just that during court appearances and the abundant amount of times he was interviewed as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.
Newell paralleled that with the idea Hardy’s accuser, ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, was not given nearly as many public chances to address her side.
Schefter was also asked during the interview on WEEI if he believed Hardy's assertions and didn't take a hard stand when he responded, via Newell:
Yeah listen, I honestly didn’t go in there to form an opinion on whether he did or didn’t hit her, OK? We all know something unsavory and unfavorable happened that night and it was chilling to see those photos. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened. I’ll leave that up to everybody else to figure out and the courts to determine.
Schefter may leave it up to everyone else to decide whether Hardy did commit domestic violence, but Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. didn’t take the defensive end at his word following the interview:
Schefter and Hardy weren’t the only ones criticized for the interview.
ESPN employee Michelle Beadle condemned her network for giving Hardy that platform in the first place when she addressed it on Tuesday’s airing of SportsNation (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.”
The charges in the domestic violence case against Hardy were eventually dropped in February 2015. His accuser did not show up at a hearing for his appeal, and Hardy reportedly settled outside of court, per ESPN.com's David Newton. However, images from the alleged incident surfaced in November 2015, which Deadspin passed along (warning: graphic images).
Those are the photos Schefter said were “chilling” to see.
Hardy played for the Carolina Panthers from 2010-14 and was one of the best pass-rushers in the league. He racked up a combined 26 sacks in 2012 and 2013 alone, but the Panthers allowed him to depart via free agency before the 2015 season in light of the domestic violence allegations.
He signed with the Dallas Cowboys and played 12 games last year after serving a four-game suspension. The league initially suspended him for 10 games, but an arbitrator reduced it to four before the season started.