“Due process” has been a popular phrase around the NFL lately, as teams and the league opt to wait for players’ legal cases to fully play out before deciding on the appropriate penalties. That’s why the Panthers elected to let Greg Hardy play in their Week 1 game against the Buccaneers, but after deactivating the defensive end in Week 2, Carolina has yet to make a final decision on how to proceed with Hardy, who was found guilty by a North Carolina judge of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.
“We’re going to have to look at things and look at what’s going on,” said head coach Ron Rivera, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “We’re going to have to get a feel for some things, and, as I said, [GM] Dave [Gettleman] and the guys upstairs are going to do their due diligence in terms of looking at what our options are.”
As the Panthers consider their options, the decision may ultimately be taken out of their hands. A league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the NFL may soon intervene in the Hardy case, electing to suspend him without pay for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
While Hardy was found guilty by a judge, the North Carolina criminal procedure allowed him to appeal that decision and receive a trial by jury, which is currently scheduled for November 17. Typically, the league and the team would wait until after that date to hand down an appropriate punishment for Hardy, but given the current climate following incidents involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the NFL and the Panthers are under increased scrutiny — seeing Hardy active in this week’s prime time Sunday Night Football game may not sit well with many fans and viewers.
A Panthers source directly involved in the Hardy situation tells Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that the club doesn’t know anything at this point about a potential suspension coming from the NFL.