Greg Hardy denies ever assaulting women in an interview he did with ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Domestic violence experts responded with dismay Tuesday to disgraced football star Greg Hardy’s claim in an ESPN interview that violence against women is “nonexistent in most southern homes.”
“Domestic violence does not discriminate, it impacts every race, geographic region, educational background,” Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, tells the Daily News. “It knows no boundaries. It’s a reg resilient issue that people don’t talk about.”
Hardy, who was suspended four games last season over evidence that he battered and choked an ex-girlfriend in 2014, gave an interview to ESPN’s Adam Schefter in which Hardy denied assaulting any woman, ever.
The free-agent defensive end doesn’t think NFL teams should hesitate to sign him simply because of shocking police photos of injuries Hardy’s ex-girlfriend received that Deadspin published in December.
“Pictures are pictures and they can be made to look like whatever they want to,” Hardy told Schefter.
Hardy was found guilty of assault by a district court judge, but he appealed his conviction in Superior Court, which is allowed under North Carolina law. The charges were then dismissed because his accuser, Nicole Holder, failed to appear in court. Holder had told police in May of 2014 that Hardy – then with the Panthers – had pushed her into a bathtub, yanked her out by her hair, choked her, threatened her life, and threw her onto a couch covered with assault rifles and shotguns.
Holder released a statement Tuesday, saying she had worked “very hard to distance myself from the media,” and was currently looking for a job and asking “the media to respect my privacy and my wishes.”
Hardy meanwhile is trying to salvage his career. The 27-year-old played for the Cowboys last season, but has drawn no notice on the free-agent market, partly because of his conduct in Dallas and partly because of backlash from his incident with Holder.
In his ESPN interview he admitted that “saying I did nothing wrong is a stretch … but (to) say I am innocent is correct.
“It’s a situation that’s in my past,” he said. “And I feel like, as a grown man, as a football player of my caliber there are situations, inside that situation, where it has nothing to do with the situation, but I could have done better. I should have done better.”
Hardy also contrasted himself with former NFL running back Ray Rice, who became a pariah in pro football after video surfaced showing him knocking out his then-fiance with a punch in an Atlantic City elevator.
“I would say it’s the story of an innocent man and a guilty man,” he said, referring to himself and Rice, whose case threw a spotlight on the NFL’s deficiencies in disciplining players in domestic abuse cases.
“An incident did happen,” Hardy said, but he went on to insist that he never once physically laid his hands on Holder.
“No sir. No sir. Never. I’ve never put my hand on any woman in my whole entire life,” he said. “That’s just not how we’re raised. It (domestic violence) is nonexistent in most Southern homes.”
In fact, law enforcement officers in Mississippi, where Schefter’s interview with Hardy took place, responded to 10,411 domestic violence calls in 2015, according to the Mississippi State Attorney General’s Office. Nearly 4,000 protection orders were issued in the state in fiscal year 2015, while domestic violence shelters in the state provided temporary housing and safety to 2,114 women, men and children.
Hardy wrote off both the Deadspin photos and the reported stories as “pretty much just speculation.” But he did admit that he had given NFL fans plenty of room to speculate.
“Maybe because I gave them (fans and media) an opportunity to say things about me,” he said. “(But it’s) pretty much just speculation. It’s up to me to fix it.”
Hardy returned from suspension to the Cowboys last season saying he’d hit the field “guns blazing,” and also made an off-color Twin Towers reference in a tweet about his former Carolina team.
He did attempt to take responsibility for these issues, saying they were the product of his opinion of himself as an “entertainer.”
“Now I would say that it should have been about football,” he said. “Impress them with the ball you play and not the words you say . . . $22 million and the franchise player, you should act like the franchise player. I don’t think that was going on all the time (for me).”
He’s hoping for one more chance, even though some have suggested that his tumultuous season with the Cowboys last year, after the Panthers had moved on, was his last chance. “I don’t want drama,” he said. “I want to bring attention to the team, on the field.”