Greg Hardy and the New-Look Detroit Lions

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Greg Hardy is a monster. In just 75 games in six seasons, he’s sacked the quarterback 40 times. In 2012 and 2013 for the Carolina Panthers he recorded 11.0 and 15.0 sacks respectively. But that’s not why Greg Hardy is a monster. Greg Hardy is a monster because, in the spring of 2014, he threw Nicole Holder on a mattress covered in assault weapons, and proceeded to beat and choke her. Oh, and he also threatened to kill her. (And they say chivalry is dead!)

Unfortunately, all charges against him were eventually dropped because the victim mysteriously became uncooperative in the investigation. Disturbing, to say the least. These events ultimately (and rightfully) lead to the Panthers releasing Hardy, their franchise record holder for sacks in a single season. After sitting out all but one game of the 2014 season on the exempt list, he was also suspended for ten games, although an arbiter eventually reduced it to four.

Hardy found a new home in Dallas, which has long been a haven for outcasts, divas, and thugs. He signed a one-year, $11.3 million contract, and proceeded to make highlight reels. Not for his play, but for a shouting and shoving match he had with Dez Bryant during their mid-season loss to the Giants. Afterwards, the ever-deluded Jerry Jones defended Hardy, going so far as to calling him a leader. Hardy rewarded Jones’ misplaced confidence with ingratitude and mediocre play. They paid him $11,300,000 for just six sacks in twelve games, or $1,883,333 per sack. He began missing meetings, and coaches and teammates complained about his conditioning. He hasn’t been brought back; if Dallas isn’t willing to have you, you have problems. They even let Tank Johnson, who was suspended eight games in 2007 for weapons charges, stick around for a second season with the team, and he was nowhere near as talented as Greg Hardy.

Despite all this, there’s a contingent of Lions fans that would like to see Bob Quinn roll the dice on Hardy. If he could bounce back and produce like he did in Carolina, Detroit would have the best pass-rushing tandem in the league in him and Ziggy Ansah. This is a pipe dream, pure and simple. This delusion must be smashed. Greg Hardy has no place in the Lions organization.

When Quinn was introduced as the Lions GM at his January 11th press conference, he was asked about his policy regarding criminal behavior. He had this to say:

“The two things that are zero tolerance are domestic violence and dangerous weapons. Those are the two things I’m not going to stand for, I don’t believe in. That’s how I feel.”

Beating and choking a woman on a pile of assault rifles? It’s really impressive how Hardy managed to kill two birds with one stone there. If that weren’t enough, Quinn also said he would never force a player on a coach. Jim Caldwell is a stoic, no-nonsense kind of coach who would be less than welcoming to a player with the baggage Hardy carries.

Even so, some may want to make an exception for a player of Hardy’s caliber. News flash: he’s not that good. In 31 games from 2012-2013, he had 26 sacks (0.84/game). That’s on par with career averages of the likes of JJ Watt (0.94/game), Von Miller (0.83/game), and Justin Houston (0.80/game). Since his domestic violence case, he’s played just thirteen games in two seasons and recorded a mere seven sacks (0.54/game). That’s a huge drop off. Breaking this down even further, Hardy was on the field for 596 defensive snaps last season and logged six sacks, which means he averaged a sack every 99 plays or so. By comparison, Devin Taylor (550 snaps, seven sacks) averaged a sack about every 79 plays.

The Lions are trying to institute a winning culture. In that press conference, Bob Quinn stated that, “Our culture will be one of great work ethic and no egos.” Detroit is at a pivotal moment in the franchise’s history. They just had a legend retire. They’ve lost several veteran locker room presences in Mathis, Bell, and Ihedigbo – and Tulloch is likely to be gone, as well. Hardy is a locker room cancer, and he doesn’t stand to bring any leadership to the table. He doesn’t know what it’s like to win, either. In six seasons, he’s only ever been on one winning team (the 2013 Panthers, who went 12-4). He’s never won a playoff game. The record of the team’s he’s been on is 38-57-1, which is a winning percentage of 0.396. That’s even worse than the franchise’s record under the Mayhew/Lewand regime (41-47, 0.465).

The bottom line is that Greg Hardy has absolutely nothing to offer the Lions. Not even on a one-year, vet-min deal. He’s a criminal. He’s a bad teammate. He’s a distraction. He’s past his prime. All he can bring Detroit is pain and misery, and this franchise and its fanbase have had far too much of that already.

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