Sources: Roughriders blocked in acquiring Greg Hardy’s CFL rights


Defensive end Greg Hardy played with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. (Brandon Wade/AP)

Greg Hardy does not yet have a NFL home, and for now his status in the Canadian Football League remains unclear.

Sportsnet has learned that the CFL has blocked the Saskatchewan Roughriders from adding Greg Hardy to the team’s exclusive negotiation list. Sources indicated the league office is now deciding whether or not to allow the Riders to obtain the rights to the former Pro Bowl defensive end.

Hardy is a free agent who, after fulfilling a four-game NFL suspension, played most of the 2015 season with the Dallas Cowboys. He remains unsigned south of the border, although he did visit the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, going through a two-day workout and interview session with the team.

While adding Hardy to a CFL negotiation list would not mean the player would sign a contract in Canada, that the league office has blocked him is significant. The CFL prevented teams from adding Ray Rice in 2014, but Rice has not played a professional game since he was charged with assault in a domestic violence incident (the charge was eventually thrown out). Hardy has.

When asked specifically about the Riders attempting to add Hardy to their negotiation list, and the league halting it, CFL spokesman Paulo Senra said: “We don’t have any comment.”

Even with a league-wide domestic violence policy, the CFL has permitted Justin Cox to sign, and play, in Saskatchewan, where he is now a starting defensive back with the Roughriders. Just last July, he was arrested for aggravated domestic violence, burglary of a residence and trespassing. Only nine months prior, he had been charged with burglary and aggravated domestic violence in a separate incident.

Sources say the Riders are waiting to hear from the league with regards to Hardy.

Back in 2014, Hardy was charged and found guilty of assaulting a female, ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, and communicating threats. The victim claimed the six-foot-five, 280-lb. lineman threw her in the bathtub, then dragged her into a bedroom, choked her and tossed her onto a couch covered with guns before threatening to kill her.

“He looked me in the eyes and he told me he was going to kill me. I was so scared I wanted to die,” Holder testified.

After playing in Week 1, Hardy was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List for what turned out to be the remainder of the 2014 NFL season.

Hardy’s return to the NFL was mixed last season. He played the final 12 games, and while productive (35 tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble and one interception), he was not without controversy. In one standout incident, Hardy got into a shouting match with Dez Bryant and knocked a clipboard away from an assistant coach.

In the spring, the CFL was asked if the league would allow any of its teams to sign players who have had allegations of domestic violence like Hardy and Cox. Matt Maychak, Vice President Communications and Public Affairs, responded with:

“With any player with a history of violence, or any player who has faced allegations of violence, we would look to the team to assess the player, not just on his football skills, but on what he brings to the team, including assessing how he has moved forward since the violence or allegation of violence. We have experts in the field willing to help in this regard. Simply having a past would not eliminate a player from the CFL. However, if an assessment revealed or concluded that his behaviour or attitudes had not changed, and those pose a risk of future violence, then the league would expect teams to treat that as a very serious concern. The policy puts an emphasis on awareness, training and prevention, as well as ensuring those hurt by violence and abuse get help. While it contemplates potential penalties up to and including a lifetime ban for repeat offenders, it is really focused on working to prevent violence, and working to help ensure it stop if it has occurred.”

Hardy was selected 175th overall in the sixth round by the Carolina Panthers in the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s recorded 238 tackles, 40 sacks, 16 passes defended, eight forced fumbles and one interception through a six-year NFL career.

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