On some level, the Ray Rice domestic violence case was supposed to be a turning point in how the NFL, and maybe we as fans of the NFL, viewed domestic violence. At least, that was the hope.
The fact that we saw the chilling video of Rice punching his fiancée in the face, and that then (and only then) was true unanimous outrage expressed, should've been a wake-up call that the issue of domestic violence can't just be some nebulous, violent-sounding noun. It's real. We shouldn't have to see it to want to seek justice. After all, Ray Rice had hit his fiancée and admitted to it long before we saw the video.
But if the Cowboys' signing of former Carolina pass rusher (and formerly convicted abuser) Greg Hardy is any indication, the lessons have not been learned. At least not in Dallas.
Earlier this week, the Cowboys signed Hardy to an incentive-laden one-year contract that could pay him as much as $13 million in 2015. They had him in town earlier this week to meet with him and, one would hope, parse out the details of what exactly occurred between Hardy and his girlfriend last year when he allegedly beat her and threw her onto a piece of furniture that was covered in firearms. (Sidebar: If you have enough firearms to theoretically cover the surface of an entire sofa or bed, I recommend decaf.)
By all accounts (and pictures on Twitter), the two sides seemed to get along very well! Garrett and Hardy are like peas and carrots!
— DFW Breaking News (@dfwbreakingnews) March 18, 2015
In the cocoon of the Cowboys' facility and the adulation of the sycophants on Twitter, the Hardy signing was roundly applauded. However, outside those actual and digital walls, the reaction was noticeably angrier, most notably from former Cowboys announcer and current WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen, who skewered everyone from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to head coach Jason Garrett to Garrett's dad (a former Cowboys scout, coincidentally) in denouncing the cavalier, tone-deaf culture of the franchise.
Take a look (get some popcorn, too)....
Aside from the uncomfortable contention that Cowboys fans would "shoot [Hardy] through the glass of their collective front door" if he showed up to date their daughter, I don't think Hansen says anything terribly unfair.
The Cowboys have happily and recently given safe football haven to drug abusers, drunk drivers, shoplifters and, now, once convicted domestic abusers. The only thing keeping Hardy from being a still convicted domestic abuser is his ex-girlfriend's unwillingness to cooperate with authorities after Hardy appealed his conviction, not so coincidentally after reaching a settlement with Hardy outside the courtroom.
Shortly after Hansen was done destroying the Cowboys, similar anger and concern came from Dallas's city hall, with Mayor Mike Rawlings saying the following (courtesy of Pro Football Talk):
"I'm a big Cowboys fan. I love them to death and I want them to beat the Eagles every time they play," Rawlings said, via Sarah Mervosh of the Dallas Morning News. "But at some point, being a sports fan gets trumped by being a father, husband, wanting to do what's right for women, so this is not a good thing. I don't think I'm going to be buying Hardy jerseys any time soon."
The mayor has made combatting and punishing domestic violence a big part of his platform, but at the same time, he has been a staunch supporter (as one would expect) of the local football team, including appearing as a guest of Jones in the Cowboys' suite for some games. Still, he is opposed to the Hardy signing:
"It is something that I heard about and immediately called the Cowboys this morning. I had a couple of conversations with them because I wanted to hear their side," Rawlings said.
He said the team told him they "took this very seriously," saying their background checks and the structure of Hardy's contract offered some degree of protection and/or incentive for their newest addition to stay out of trouble.
The mayor said he's still a fan, but "that doesn't mean I have to agree with every play that's called and every person that's hired, and in this case, I don't."
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In the end, sadly, the feelings of many are probably best summed up by Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick in this TMZ video:
"I think he's a good player."