Greg Hardy keeps denying that he’s ever laid a hand on a woman.
There was Greg Hardy, admitting that it’s a “stretch” to say he didn’t do anything “wrong” back on that night in 2014. And then, in the same sentence, there he was, insisting that he was “innocent.”
He didn’t lay a hand on his girlfriend, Nicole Holder, that May night, he said. But yeah, he said, an “incident did happen.”
It was all part of a bizarre trip into the mind of Greg Hardy on ESPN. On Tuesday afternoon, the troubled free agent defensive end gave his first no-holds-barred interview, fielding a series of questions about a football career gone wrong. But by interview’s end, he’d provided few true answers about his two-year-old domestic violence charge, but he had contrasted himself with former NFL RB Ray Rice.
“I would say it’s the story of an innocent man and a guilty man,” he said, referring to himself and Rice, who has been out of football since his own domestic violences issues in 2014.
“Saying I did nothing wrong is a stretch,” Hardy also said. “But say I am innocent is correct.”
It was nearly 20 minutes of confusing, confounded responses from a defensive end whose NFL career remains on life support. One month into free agency, Hardy, 27 a Cowboy last season, has drawn no notice on the market, partly because of a questionable attitude in Dallas and partly because backlash from his incident with Holder still lingers.
Two years later, Hardy has never fully explained the situation. He allegedly assaulted Holder in May 2014, throwing her onto a couch filled with guns and threatening her.
Hardy was found guilty by a North Carolina judge, although a subsequent appeal before a jury saw the charges dropped when Holder did not appear for a hearing.
Deadspin, however, unearthed photos from the police report this past November; the photos showed Hardy’s girlfriend covered in bruises. But Hardy offered little clarification of what actually happened, remaining cryptic even as he tried to take responsibility.
“An incident did happen,” he said. “I was proven not guilty. And it’s a situation that’s in my past.”
He went on to insist that while something did happen, 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.”
Hardy wrote off both the Deadspin photos and the reported stories on the entire incident, calling it “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.”
Not that he appears close to fixing anything. Holder seems to have moved on, and she released a statement on 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.”
But things remain messy for Hardy, who compounded his problems last season by continuing to make poor public decisions with the Cowboys, especially when dealing with the media. He returned from suspension to the Cowboys last season by saying he’d hit the field “guns blazing” at one point, and also made an off-color Twin Towers reference in a tweet about his former team, the Carolina Panthers.
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.”