Everyone has opinions on Greg Hardy’s sideline blow-up on Sunday. Few come from a place as informed as those of Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, one of football’s smartest guys—and a man who’s done some very terrible things that include violence against women.
Speaking on Showtime’s Inside The NFL, Marshall says he doesn’t believe that Hardy appreciates the magnitude of his domestic-violence scandal and subsequent return to the Cowboys, and ought to be aware of how that context changes how he’s perceived when he does things like shove teammates and a coach. “I don’t think that he gets it.”
But Marshall saved his strongest words for the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones, and their unquestioned support—even praise—of Hardy after the incident. In enabling and encouraging that behavior, Marshall says, the team might be going to bat for one of its best players, but it’s doing so at the expense of Greg Hardy the human being.
“Right now Jerry’s only focusing on the player,” Marshall said. “It’s time for us to start talking about the person. It’s time for us to start dealing with the person. If we want the product on the field to be great, if we want to protect the shield, then we have to approach both the same.”
The “protect the shield” line is tired, but it speaks to the amorality of the NFL (and that’s fine! just don’t pretend otherwise) when it covers for a player as long as he’s good, and encourages behavior that wouldn’t fly in larger society, than distances itself from him when he’s no longer of value on the field. Greg Hardy has, at the very least, anger issues—and the Cowboys are explicitly saying that’s a good thing.
On CBS Sports Radio, Former LB Bart Scott also had words on Hardy’s situation, but his were directed solely toward giving Hardy advice to protect against the day when the NFL no longer has Hardy’s back.
“You’re a talented player, but there’s plenty of talented players in this league, and the league will survive without you. Once the owners and the NFL decides to say they’ve had enough of you, they’ve had enough of you. It doesn’t matter what you can do as far as rushing the passer. Ask Ray Rice...I think you’ve got some mental health issues. I think you need to get evaluated.”
Marshall doesn’t go so far as Scott in diagnosing Hardy, but Marshal has dealt with his own mental health issues. He had almost a decade’s worth of legal run-ins and on-field tantrums, and four years ago he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Marshall has undergone treatment including psychotherapy, and eagerly discusses his struggle in an attempt to make mental health issues less taboo.
After practice yesterday, Marshall said that history gives him special insight into Hardy’s position.
“I’m the perfect person to talk about issues like that because I’ve been through it. Now I’m on the other side, so I get it. I understand it.”
Image via Getty.