NFL drops hammer on Greg Hardy, suspends him 10 games without pay

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The Dallas Cowboys' gamble on signing defensive end Greg Hardy doesn't look like it will pay off, at least until Thanksgiving.

The NFL came down hard on Hardy, who missed most of last season while his domestic abuse case played out in the courts, suspending the new Cowboys end 10 games without pay. Hardy missed 15 games last season for the Carolina Panthers on the commissioner's exempt list, but he was paid during that time.

Hardy's first scheduled game back? Yep, it's against the Panthers, on Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys gave Hardy an unusually structured one-year contract anticipating some NFL suspension. Hardy got a deal that could max out at $11.3 million, but about $9.25 million of that was to be paid in weekly bonuses for being on the active roster. That protected the Cowboys in case of a long suspension. Even though the Cowboys went into this deal knowing what could happen, the 10-game length of the suspension is still a little startling.

It's not too surprising when you think of it from the NFL's point of view, however. They spent all last season getting ripped for being too light on Ray Rice and his two-game suspension in a domestic violence case. Hardy was the next high profile domestic violence case, and the NFL was going to make a statement. The suspension comes even though charges were dropped against Hardy when his ex-girlfriend refused to cooperate. The prosecution felt it didn't have enough evidence to move forward. Hardy was accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend and threatening to kill her. The NFL, in its statement, said there was "sufficient credible evidence" that Hardy violated NFL policies.

This is a passage from the NFL's announcement:

The NFL’s investigation concluded that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against Nicole Holder in at least four instances.  First, he used physical force against her which caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he used physical force against her which caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semi-automatic rifles. Third, he used physical force against her by placing his hands around Ms. Holder’s neck and applying enough pressure to leave visible marks.  And fourth, he used physical force to shove Ms. Holder against a wall in his apartment’s entry hallway. 

“The net effect of these acts was that Ms. Holder was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote. “The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”

The league also said that Hardy "failed to provide complete and accurate information" to NFL investigators and NFL staff members. As part of his decision, Goodell ordered Hardy to obtain a clinical evaluation and comply with any counseling or treatment that is recommended.

The Cowboys were expecting a four-game suspension, and six at most according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. But the NFL made sure it wasn't going to get criticized for going too lightly on a player involved in a domestic violence incident again.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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