Column: Has the Cowboys' Greg Hardy learned nothing?

In this Feb. 9, 2015, file photo, Carolina Panthers' defensive end Greg Hardy arrives at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on the first day of his domestic violence appeal trial in Charlotte, N.C. Hardy has returned from a four-game suspension over his role in a domestic violence case. If Hardy plays for the Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, against Super Bowl champion New England (3-0), it will be his first game since last year's season opener with Carolina. (Chris Keane, File/AP)

I don’t usually root for the New England Patriots. In fact, I never do. I don’t like the Patriots.

But on Sunday, I will be rooting for them more than I ever have before.

The New England Patriots will play the injury-ridden Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. at Jerry World. Tony Romo is out. Dez Bryant is out. The Patriots are coming off a bye week. Brandon Weeden has lost his last 10 starts. There are many storylines heading into this game.

Perhaps the biggest story, though, is that the Cowboys (2-2) will get defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain back from suspension. After losing Sean Lee to a concussion in the Saints game on Sunday night and rookie Randy Gregory still remains out with a high ankle sprain. Getting Hardy and McClain back is huge for the Cowboys.

But I want to focus on Greg Hardy.

Back in July 2014, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. He also threatened to kill her. In a beautifully written column by USA Today’s Christine Brennan, she pointed out that in February, prosecutors in North Carolina said charges would be dropped when Holder, who was paid a settlement by Hardy, could not be found.

Hardy was initially given a 10-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but it was later reduced to four games as Hardy and the NFL Players Association fought Goodell’s decision.

So now in Week 5, Hardy will make his return to the field against the Patriots on Sunday. 

Everyone deserves second chances. Hardy is getting his, but it doesn’t seem like he is taking it too seriously. 

In his first media appearance of the season, Hardy was asked various questions by reporters. 

Is he speaking out against domestic violence now that he has had time off? Hardy ducked the question and said he wanted to focus on the matchup and the game plan against the Patriots.

But he is excited to see Tom Brady. Hardy loves playing against Tom Brady. But he’s not just excited to see him.

“I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap,” Hardy said. “Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys.”

Seriously?

But he had to learn something about himself during this whole fiasco, right? Something about his personal self-being? Nope. Hardy said he learned that he’s a “really good pass rusher when I put my mind to it.” 

How can anyone root for this guy? 

At least Ray Rice – who was suspended for the same thing and is still not playing in the NFL – spoke out about domestic violence. He did so in an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill. He was man enough to own up to what he had done.

So back to the game on Sunday. Hardy will make his return to the field. The Patriots (3-0) will return from their bye week and head to Dallas.

Let me remind you again how great Tom Brady has been this season. In just three games, Brady has thrown for 1,112 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes. Brady ranks in the Top 5 in the NFL in all of those categories, with one less game than everyone else.

So as much as I don’t like the Patriots, I hope Brady throws for 400 yards and four touchdowns against Hardy and the Cowboys’ defense. Sorry for everyone else on the Cowboys’ defense (looking at you Byron Jones, I hope you do well). But I just can’t root for Hardy.

He hasn’t seemed to learn his lesson. So I hope Brady teaches him a lesson on the field on Sunday. Maybe he’ll learn from that.


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @Matt_Zamp.