You all know the story; there is no need to rehash the past of Greg Hardy. Like it or not, the man is a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He is also a player facing a ten-game suspension handed down by the commissioner. As is his right, Hardy has appealed the sanctions levied against him by the league, and now his appeal is set to be heard by Harold Henderson on Thursday in Washington. Henderson was hand-picked by the commissioner to be the ruling body and has previously upheld Roger Goodell's actions in the Adrian Peterson case.
It can be easily argued that Harold Henderson is an extension of Goodell's office and that he is not a neutral party in this case, rather that he is an arm of the league. Henderson is a former NFL executive after all. You would get very few objections, but it must be remembered that during the last round of negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players consented to Goodell having the authority to hand select the person chosen to hear appeals of decisions that he made. The fault for that should be laid directly on the NFLPA. After all, if the rules allow one party to stack the deck, that party would be foolish not to do so. The union will have its shot at stacking the deck later on in the process.
For Greg Hardy and the Dallas Cowboys this likely means that the Hardy suspension will be upheld in full. It is only the first step in the process. The team was fully aware of the potential for sanctions when they signed the former Carolina Panther defensive end.
"I don’t think it turned out any different than what we thought might could happen," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones on April 28. "I think we structured a contract to deal with that and we knew very well something could. Our eyes were wide open on that."
Nobody expects Hardy to be vindicated, regardless of the final legal disposition of the charges against him; there is too much evidence against the man for him to not serve time in Roger Goodell's personal penalty box. What he is entitled to is fair treatment on par with others in the same situation. There is a chance that this could come from Henderson; more likely it will come from legal action taken by the NFLPA after the suspension is upheld.
There is a legal precedent for the courts intervening on behalf of a player who has already exhausted the established league appeals process. In February, Judge David Doty set aside the indefinite suspension of Adrian Peterson after it was upheld by Henderson. Much like Goodell did in selecting Henderson as the arbitrator in this case, the NFLPA will have the option in where it files its action, and once again they will likely select Judge Doty's courtroom. This venue will be the place where Hardy will most likely see his sanctions being mitigated.
Thursday is expected to be a kangaroo court if you will. No one close to the case expects Henderson to do anything more than affirm the decision that his former bosses in the league office have already made. It is a necessary step in the process of getting Greg Hardy on the field for as many games as possible during the 2015 NFL season. There is still a long and winding road that stretches out in front of Greg Hardy and the Dallas Cowboys. Thursday's hearing is just the first mile marker on that path.
Just a friendly reminder, folks. We here at Blogging The Boys welcome opposing points of view on the situation, but in-fighting among ourselves will not be tolerated. This is still a volatile issue for many of us, myself included. Conduct yourselves with the class and decorum that is expected in this forum and there will be no issues. With that being said, feel free to discuss in the comments.