No one in the NFC East has anything to brag about.
The first-place New York Giants lead the way with a middling 4-3 record. The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-4, struggling to prove that Chip Kelly really is a genius. The locals have yet to win twice in a row this season and face New England in their next attempt.
But at least none of those teams are like Dallas. The Cowboys not only miss their star quarterback (0-3 without Tony Romo), they have to justify their controversial defensive end (0-1 when Greg Hardy goes berserk).
Believers in karma have a new Exhibit A as evidence. In March, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed a great talent in Hardy, who already has three sacks in two games played. There’s no question that the 6-5, 280-pound rusher is a disruptive force on the line and a menace to QBs.
However, he previously has been a menace to women and a disruptive force within the Carolina Panthers.
Hardy was convicted in 2014 of domestic assault and communicating threats in a case involving a former girlfriend, who said he threw her on a bed covered with guns and threatened to kill her with one. She was a no-show for his appeal (reportedly paid off) and the charges were dropped, as Hardy was suspended for all but one game last season and the first four games this season.
He has wasted no time drawing negative attention to himself and his new employer, making insensitive comments about “guns a-blazing,” speaking inappropriately about Tom Brady’ wife and, the latest, acting out indefensibly during Sunday’s loss against the Giants.
After former Cowboy Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with about seven minutes left, cameras caught Hardy and injured wideout Dez Bryant in a heated verbal exchange on the sideline. Bryant wasn’t in uniform, but no one is surprised he was involved in an outburst. He threw an epic tantrum in 2013 during a game against the Lions, believing he was under-utilized while Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson was en route to 14 catches for 329 yards.
Generally speaking, sideline blowups are overblown. Players can bark at each other and think nothing of it afterward. What we witnessed between Hardy and Bryant was intense, frustrated players in the heat of an important game they were losing.
But what can’t be underplayed is a player going after a coach, which we didn’t see until new video appeared Sunday night.
Immediately prior to the flap with Bryant, as the Cowboys prepared to receive the ensuing kickoff after Harris’ touchdown, Hardy angrily confronted special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. Hardy slapped at a clipboard, menacingly gestured, got in Bisaccia’s face and made contact several times as the coach shoved him in defense.
“He just wanted to get in there and kind of get after some of the guys a little bit, maybe get them fired up,” Bisaccia told the Dallas Morning News, denying that Hardy pushed him – despite clear video evidence. “It was just not the right time. It’s really not an issue.”
No matter how much “passion” a player has, teams can’t tolerate outright disrespect and insubordination toward coaches. There must be boundaries for even the most zealous players, lest any amount of ranting and raving be deemed acceptable. Being emotional isn’t a license to lose all self-control, unless dysfunction is the aim.
Hardy actions can’t be condoned. Unless you signed him.
“He’s of course one of the real leaders on this team and he earns it,” Jones told reporters after the game (but before NBC aired video that highlighted the special teams incident). “He earns it with the respect from all of his teammates. … He’s just getting guys ready to play, in my view. I don’t have any issue with him being involved in motivating or pushing in any part of the football team because he plays and walks the walk.”
But he didn’t talk the talk when it was time to address the media like a so-called leader.
His postgame interview lasted 30 seconds, with his dismissive responses limited to “no comment” (eight times) and “next question” or “any other questions” (nine times). He delivered the utterances rapid-fire, in mid-query, virtually daring reporters to ask him something else. He finished the classless display with a disingenuous “thank you guys for coming; I appreciate y’all very much.”
That isn’t a guy channeling his inner Marshawn Lynch. That’s someone with an anger management problem that manifested itself in the ugliest way last year and surfaced on the sideline Sunday.
Yes, he has three sacks so far … plus one national embarrassment. The Cowboys got what they paid for, but it’s nothing to brag about.