NFL suspends Hardy 10 games

New York, NY ( - The NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy without pay for the first 10 games of the 2015 season for conduct detrimental to the league in violation of the NFL Constitution and By-Laws, the NFL Player Contract, and the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

The suspension stems from domestic abuse charges against Hardy that were dismissed in February after the alleged victim did not appear to testify. Hardy was found guilty by a North Carolina judge last July but appealed the decision, asking for a jury trial.

According to court papers, Nicole Holder -- the alleged victim -- never made herself available to the Mecklenburg County district attorney's office to prepare for trial and law enforcement officials were unable to locate her to serve a subpoena.

The prosecution said it had reliable information she had reached a civil settlement with Hardy, then a member of the Carolina Panthers.

According to police, Hardy assaulted his then-girlfriend and threatened to kill her during an altercation last May. The woman said he choked her with both hands around her throat and threw her onto a couch covered with assault rifles and shotguns. She said Hardy told her all the weapons were loaded.

Hardy was initially convicted of two misdemeanors -- assault on a female and communicating threats. He was placed on the commissioner's exempt list in September after playing in Carolina's season opener and was deactivated by the team after that.

The 2013 Pro Bowl selection signed a one-year, $11.3 million deal with the Cowboys in March.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement at the time of the signing that Hardy's incentive-based agreement is "heavily weighted" toward his participation in games, giving the team some financial protection in the event Hardy was suspended.

In another statement after Hardy's suspension was announced, Jones said it was something the Cowboys anticipated and that the team respects the decision.

"Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources -- work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome," Jones said.

In a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell, Hardy was informed that an extensive two-month NFL investigation, led by Lisa Friel and T&M Protection Resources, was to take place following the dismissal of his case.

The NFL's investigation concluded that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against Holder in at least four instances. First, he used physical force against her which caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he used physical force against her which caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semi-automatic rifles. Third, he used physical force against her by placing his hands around Holder's neck and applying enough pressure to leave visible marks. He also was found to have used physical force to shove Holder against a wall in his apartment's entry hallway.

"The net effect of these acts was that Ms. Holder was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet," Goodell wrote. "The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy."

Despite numerous efforts to interview Holder, the NFL was unable to do so. It is not known whether that is the result of her entering into a civil settlement with Hardy.

"You must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations of league policies," Goodell wrote to Hardy. "In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your banishment from the NFL."

Hardy tied a Panthers single-season record with 15 sacks in 2013 and had 204 tackles and 34 sacks in 63 games for Carolina, including 40 starts. The Panthers placed the franchise tag on him at a cost of $13.1 million for the 2014 season.