Greg Hardy: I’m not who the critics think I am
Former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Hardy fights tonight on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The appearance is controversial.
Hardy missed most of the 2014 season due to an alleged assault incident involving a former girlfriend and a bed covered with firearms. The woman said he told her all the weapons were loaded, and that he “threatened to shoot me if I went to the media or reported his assaults to anyone.” She estimated between 25 and 30 guns, including “AK-47s, automatic-looking weapons, shotguns, rifles, and pistols.”
Hardy was found guilty by a North Carolina judge and received a suspended 60-day jail sentence plus 18 months probation. However, following procedure in that state, Hardy asked for a jury trial. The case was dismissed and the record expunged after the alleged victim did not appear in court.
Hardy couldn’t get signed by an NFL team and started to train at ATT, going 3-0 as an amateur, in an average time of 47 seconds. Tonight will be his pro debut.
Combat sports have played a central role in the rehabilitation of countless lives. However, although he saw his career end in a shambles, Hardy did not formally pay his debt to society. There has been no mea culpa, no repentance, although he did say sorry on Twitter.
“People still call me a ‘wife beater’ on media circuits,” said Hardy recently to Josh Gross for The Guardian. “Nobody actually does their homework. I’m innocent, man. My government set me free just like it set anybody else free.”
During a media scrum, Hardy asked for a second chance.
“Get to know me first,” said Hardy, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “Meet me would be a good start. Talk to me, and give me the opportunity that you would give anybody else. Look forward to watching me on TV. Come out and enjoy the event – whether it’s to see me get beat up or to see me excel – and then make a decision or make your opinion and I’ll respect it as a human being. That’s honestly where I have to come from on any platform these days because that’s the reality that I have to live in.”
“Who am I to question fans? These are the people that pay my salary so they have the right to have opinions, they have the right to be who they are. Me being biased towards those people would be me being exactly who they think I am and honestly, that’s not who I am.”
“There’s a whole lot of levels of understanding when you don’t know a person, when you don’t know any of the facts. But I do understand people do have their own opinions and if you don’t respect people’s opinions, that’s just Hitler-esque.”
“You’ve got to go through the steps and you’ve got to put in the work. In my former profession, that’s how you gain respect. You take your steps, you don’t skip through and try to go straight to the top, that’s just disrespectful. I want to come in and I want to show the fighters and the institution that I’m here to earn it and work my way up. I’m not here to say my name is Greg Hardy and I deserve a shot, or I’m not trying to ‘CM Punk’ my way into the situation. I don’t think I should be there because of my name. I want people to know that I should be there because they’ve seen the fights, they’ve seen the product and there is no guessing game. . .
“I am here because Dana White is an angel, a saint that gave me the opportunity to come and put my best foot forward. I honestly couldn’t begin to explain why, I can only just express my appreciation and my gratitude for the opportunity to be here and show what kind of athlete I am.”
White explained his reasoning.
“I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem,” said the UFC boss, as transcribed by Damon Martin for MMA Weekly. “Started to get into MMA. Cleaned himself up. If you talk to anybody he trains with, male or female, they say that he’s a very good guy. He’s very humble. Everybody deserves a second chance. And the guy was never charged with anything, he was never sentenced or anything like that. We’re going to give him a shot.”
Hardy will be fighting Austen Lane, a former NFL defensive lineman.