Last year, American footballer Greg Hardy assaulted his girlfriend.
Nicole Holder told police he threw her in a bathtub, pulled her out by her hair, dragged her into the bedroom, choked her with both hands and threw her on a couch covered with guns and rifles.
As if his actions didn’t speak loud enough, he also threatened to kill her.
Hardy was convicted. He appealed. When Holder failed to testify, the charges were dropped.
Meanwhile, the National Football League conducted its own investigation and found Hardy used physical force in at least four instances. It suspended him for 10 games, then reduced it to four.
When he eventually resurfaced after more than a season out of the game, it was with a new club, the Dallas Cowboys, which knew about the allegations against Hardy and hired him anyway.
Given the opportunity to show some remorse in his first press conference, Hardy said he’d come out ‘guns blazing’ against the New England Patriots.
Then he made suggestive comments about Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen and expressed the hope that she’d be at the game, along with her sister and all her friends.
Last week, the charges against Hardy were expunged. Chances are he believed the episode was behind him. Until sports website Deadspin published 48 police photographs, a damning story and this video.
Yup. Given 18 months to reflect on his actions, Hardy sent his regrets. And he was supported — so therefore aided and abetted — by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“We as an organisation take this very seriously,” said Jones after Deadspin’s revelations. “We do not condone domestic violence. We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance.”
To clarify, the Dallas Cowboys take domestic violence so seriously, they gave Hardy a second chance. Jones also praised Hardy’s qualities as a leader.
But there are other men who have taken a stand.
Like Philadelphia Eagles player Lane Johnson, who says he put ‘a little extra mustard’ into his tackles on Hardy in their latest game.
And fellow Eagles player Jason Kelce, who expressed his disgust that Hardy was even on the field. “It’s a joke a guy like that is able to play this quickly,” he told a reporter.
Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett said he wouldn’t want to play alongside Hardy. “I’m a father of three daughters so any man that beats a woman, I think that’s hard for me to swallow,” he said.
These are small but important stands. Domestic violence has for too long been treated as a woman’s problem. Invariably her fight to lose.
But it begins and ends with men. Only they can stop it. Domestic violence continues for as long as other men condone it, whether openly like Jerry Jones or by turning a blind eye and saying nothing.
In Hardy, Jones, Johnson, Kelce and Bennett we see the contrasting words and deeds of mice and men. Every man must choose which of these they’ll be.
Meanwhile, the NFL recently fined a player for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness of domestic violence, in memory of his mother who was shot and killed by his stepfather.
On the bright side, the Cowboys have lost six games straight. It’s like they’re being poisoned from within.
Here’s October’s list of alleged assaults on women and girls.
Bangladesh fast bowler Shahadat Hossain went missing for a month after being accused of torturing his 11-year-old housemaid. He surrendered in October and has been suspended from all forms of cricket until the case is concluded.
Brazilian soccer players Lucas Piazon and Andrey Da Silva Ventura are wanted by Canadian police in connection with an alleged sexual assault during the Pan-Am Games in July.
Rugby league player Saulala Houma pleaded guilty to assaulting his partner during a domestic dispute in Sydney. Former rugby league players Hazem El Masri and Rhys Wesser were charged over separate incidents.
Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was released from prison, after serving one year for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Indian cricketer leg-spinner Amit Mishra was arrested for allegedly assaulting a female friend in his hotel room.
In Melbourne, the Hawthorn Football Club confirmed two players had been interviewed by police, including the child abuse investigations team, over an alleged sexual assault that occurred in the week following the team’s AFL grand final win.
Former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves is being investigated for his role in an alleged sexual assault.
All Blacks star Mils Muliaina was cleared of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman on the dance floor of a Cardiff nightclub.