Another pro football season, another horrific domestic violence case involving an NFL player.
According to a harrowing account by the sports news and commentary website Deadspin, Hardy’s then girlfriend, Nicole Holder ran from Hardy’s Charlotte, N.C., apartment in 2014 minutes after “he had, she said, thrown her against a tile bathtub wall, tossed her on a futon covered in assault rifles, and choked her until she told him to ‘kill me so I don’t have to.’”
When a police officer ordered her to stop and asked why she was crying, she gave this heartbreaking response: “It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.” As Deadspin noted, she was, unfortunately, right:
Last year, Hardy was convicted of assault in a bench trial, but the charges were dismissed on appeal and, it was reported yesterday, expunged. He missed more than a season of football, but went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he’s become a bigger star than ever despite (or perhaps because of) a series of incidents ranging from making sexist comments in a press conference to going after a coach on the sidelines. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ billionaire owner, calls him a “real leader” who has the respect of all his teammates and inspires America’s Team.
Once again, a professional athlete – a highly paid celebrity who makes his living from an arguably violent sport – was not held accountable for a vicious attack on his intimate partner. Accountability for the offender is key to our work at Big Mountain Data. If the big guys – celebrities, athletes, wealthy men, cops – aren’t held accountable, it’s unlikely that the Average Joe taking out his aggressions on the woman he supposedly loves will ever pay the price for his unacceptable behavior.
Holder accepted a settlement from Hardy, which means she’s no longer talking about the case. Still, the Hardy case echoes patterns we’ve heard before:
- The abuse escalated over time.
- Weapons were in the home where the abuse occurred.
- The victim underplayed the abuse, saying she “fell down the stairs.”
- The victim told police she had not reported previous abuse because she feared the perpetrator.
- The perpetrator claims HE is the victim, although photo evidence from the police clearly disputes that.
- On the opening day the trial, a judge threw out the case when the accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has faced criticism for signing and supporting Hardy. In response to Deadspin’s account of the Hardy case, SI.com’s Doug Farrar called on the NFL to take action on domestic violence. NFL leaders had seen the police photos of the Hardy case before Deadspin published them, he noted.
“The NFL needs to come out and say, ‘we have screwed this up royally,’” Farrar said. “The NFL has to do something real, not an empty statement from the leader, but something real.”
Here’s a thought: How about no longer enabling players who beat up women? Stop fumbling your response to domestic violence.