The Mecklenburg district attorney has allowed the NFL and the NFL Players Association to view seven photographs it wanted to see from Greg Hardy’s domestic violence case. What exactly is shown in the seven photographs isn’t made clear in the press release, but the announcement is clear on who won’t be seeing the photos—reporters and the public.

Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his then-girlfriend last summer, but he appealed the charges and they were dropped after he gave her money to go away. This seemed to clear his path to return to playing football, except for the league’s newfound get-tough stance on domestic violence, which included a lot of words from Roger Goodell about independent investigations and not relying on law enforcement. This leads us to a moment where Goodell is relying on help from law enforcement—and gets it.

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The NFL, the union, Hardy’s lawyer, and several of their experts will be allowed to see the photographs, but will not be given copies nor be allowed to make copies. Any descriptions of them is “limited the use of their descriptions to any report, discipline letter, arbitration or within the context of an appeal relating to such disciplinary action,” the press release says. It goes on to point that that these photos are not public records, as talks about concerns that making making them public would deter other domestic violence victims from coming forward.

While these are valid concerns, what makes the NFL so important and trustworthy that an exception must be made for them and nobody else? From the press release:

The DA’s Office allowed the severely limited use of these photographs because the NFL agreed to keep the photographs confidential and demonstrated its need for the photos in a disciplinary hearing based on the same conduct that was the basis of the criminal charges that involved alleged domestic violence.

The NFL doesn’t really need to see the photos. As Tom Ley already pointed out, “The NFL wants these photos not because it cares about getting Hardy’s punishment right, but because it wants to get the optics of the punishment right.” And all the Cowboys fans wondering if their team just signed a horrific woman beater are being told that they’ll just have to trust the NFL on this one, which requires ignoring the NFL’s history of less-than-stellar investigations.

Happen to know anything about this arrangement? Let us know at tips@deadspin.com.

Image via Associated Press