Domestic violence happens all too often, and it happens across the entire social spectrum in every corner of the globe. But when it happens in the NFL, people pay more attention. Especially when the incident involves a star player and a couch covered in assault weapons. These types of situations could drastically change odds, therefore we try to keep you informed for your NFL picks.
The star in question: Carolina Panthers DE Greg Hardy. He was arrested Tuesday on charges of assault on a female and communicating a threat – both misdemeanor charges. According to The Charlotte Observer, Hardy is accused of assaulting and threatening his girlfriend, Nicole Holder, who has since filed a restraining order. Holder says at one point, Hardy threw her onto a couch covered “in assault weapons and/or shotguns” and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident.
The Kraken, Released
Hardy was released on bond Wednesday and ordered not to have any contact with Holder; he also must attend three Alcoholics Anonymous classes a week. The incident took place early Tuesday morning at an “after-party” at Hardy’s high-rise condo in Charlotte; both Hardy and Holder are said to have been intoxicated at the time. Hardy denies the accusations, claiming Holder instead attacked him and a friend.
The details about the case are continuing to come out as we go to press, but it’s the couch full of guns that seems to be grabbing everyone’s attention. In her request for a restraining order, Holden says that Hardy has about 25-30 firearms, including “AK-47s, automatic-looking weapons, shotguns, rifles and pistols,” not all of them with permits. Hardy allegedly said that all the weapons were loaded.
The Panthers have a history of taking these matters very seriously. In 2002, they waived RT Chris Terry after he failed to appear in court to face a misdemeanor charge of assaulting his wife. Dealing with Hardy, though, could be a little more complicated. Fresh off a Pro Bowl season (15 sacks, 59 tackles) and looking for a long-term deal, Hardy was instead slapped with the franchise tag, and signed a guaranteed one-year, $13.1-million deal with Carolina in March.
What can the Panthers do? In theory, the Panthers could claim that Hardy violated the terms of his contract, but first, he’d have to be convicted. The NFL itself, on the other hand, is allowed to suspend Hardy for violating the league’s conduct policy. If that happens, Carolina can qualify for a credit against the salary cap. Trading the Pro Bowler is also a possibility, but if there are no takers, the ‘Cats could end up cutting Hardy outright and eating his salary.
From a football betting standpoint, losing Hardy would be a significant blow to the Panthers (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS), but not one that they couldn’t absorb. Carolina drafted Missouri Tigers DE Kony Ealy in the second round with the No. 60 pick; Ealy’s a strong and versatile pass-rusher who also excelled at basketball in high school, and rates very highly in terms of character. Ealy may have replaced the more expensive Hardy anyway in 2015. Moving the timetable up a year might not be that damaging.
There are immediate logistical issues to deal with – Hardy is due $1.3 million of his contract in advance, paid weekly during the offseason, if he attends all of Carolina’s voluntary workouts. In the meantime, the Panthers have expressed their disappointment over the incident and say they are holding their own investigation into the matter. Hardy has no prior criminal record, only some traffic violations to his name, so there’s a chance this could all blow over. Social media and a couch full of guns suggest that won’t be the case.