"It doesn't matter... Nothing is going to happen to him anyways."
Those are the words spoken by Nicole Holder moments after being brutally attacked by former Carolina Panthers and current Cowboys defensive end, Greg Hardy.
She was right.
Despite the bruises that covered her body, a body that was more black and blue than it was skin color, Hardy faced nothing. No. Consequences. Whatsoever. He was out of the NFL for a year on a team imposed suspension by his current employers, the Dallas Cowboys. After becoming a free agent and subsequently signing a lucrative deal paying him over 11 million dollars in 2015 with the Dallas Cowboys, the defensive end's brutal attack was a thing of the past. Sure he lost a year with the Panthers and was suspended for the first four games of his time with the Cowboys, but in the scheme of things, that is nothing. In a crime that can result in prison time from 1 to 20 years, Hardy did not even sniff a day behind bars. His accuser was terrified for her life. Nicole Holder feared that putting his career in jeopardy would result in her death. Instead of subjugating herself to the painful process of a trial where she would have to face Hardy in court and recount her assault over and over again, she decided to let the charge go and save herself from the pressure a trial would bring to her.
Nicole Holder is a survivor and an incredibly strong human being. That cannot be lost in this conversation.
However, the conversation is rather narrow at this point. It has been well over a year since the horrific incident took place, and over half a year since Hardy joined the Dallas Cowboys. In recent news, Hardy has been a problem on the sidelines and a problem with the verbiage he uses in press conferences. In response to it, the entire Cowboys organization has rallied behind Hardy, even amounting to the owner of the team, Jerry Jones, calling him a leader. They are enabling a man who clearly has no remorse for the horrific pain he has inflicted, a man who comes across no less than a sociopath...
But what are they supposed to do?
The NFL is not the police. They are not the justice system. They are not the law makers. They are a business that is run from the ground up with the sole purpose of accumulating capital. They have shown time and time again that money is the end goal and money is accumulated through entertainment, which is done so through wins. The Cowboys want to win and that is all that crossed their minds when they put pen to ink with Greg Hardy sitting across the table. The most lucrative team in the NFL had no interest in Nicole Holder experiencing the worse night of her life and that is because the NFL does not ask them to take interest. They ask teams to put a good product on the field and as long as players are not in prison, put the most talented men out there.
I do not agree with this approach. It is morally bankrupt, but when it comes down to it, these players would not be on the field if the justice system could do it's job. Like Nicole Holder, most victims of domestic violence do not report their cases. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, only 25% of physical assaults and 20% of rapes are reported to authorities and a staggeringly low number of those accused are given jail time. The fear of the abuser, combined with the stress of the trial and, of course, the public outcry to support the abuser and blame the victim. We have seen this all to many times in way too many walks of life. It is wrong. It is disgusting. It must change.
This country enables the abuser. Not just the entertainment industries, but the justice system itself. It does not matter if it's cops shooting unarmed people and getting off scot free, LGBT people being told they do not deserve basic human respect or every woman in this country fearing that she can be abused and broken without having an opportunity to seek justice, this country empowers the bully.
I was at high school a few years ago. A very high profile private school in New Jersey. Every year, there would be a host of times where kids would get arrested for assault, DUIs or criminal possession of drugs. Usually because of the various privileges that they had as upper middle class white kids, they got a slap on the wrist by the law and the school would never get involved. However, you cheat on a test? You are out of the school. No questions asked. The NFL is the same way. If the law does not act, they should not have to either, but if you take a substance that is banned by the league or violate an on field rule? There will be hell to pay.
On top of this, because of how criminal justice functions in the United States and how the NFL runs itself, Hardy is bound to assault again. He is a violent, remorseless person being paid millions to play a violent position in a violent sport... His attitude is fostered and encouraged, while the NFL, and society should seek to rehabilitate and help him. It should be made clear that my wanting for Hardy to get help does not excuse the heinous actions he took towards Nicole Holder, but it is clear that Hardy is severely troubled. Brandon Marshall, who is one of the more inspirational players in the league, came from an incredibly hard place. He was viewed as a miscreant and potentially dangerous during his early time in the league, but he focused on bettering himself.
He got help.
Today, Brandon Marshall is a guiding light in the crusade for Mental Health Awareness and is one of the model citizens playing in the NFL today. It can work for players and people to seek help for their issues, be it with substance abuse or any other kind of mental health difficulty. The way is there, but the league, nor the country we live in wants to provide it. The country and the league either want people making them money or they want those people out of the system in one way or another. It is an awful cycle that harms everyone involved, except the ones eventually counting dollars at the end of the day when victims, and even the abuser, are broken by themselves or others.
Nicole Holder, as well as every single marginalized person in this country, deserves to no longer be afraid of injustices nor should they fear speaking out against them.
As for Greg Hardy, at the end of the day, he should not be on an NFL team. Hardy should, at the least, be given help for the violence that is so deeply seeded in him.
Should you be mad? Hell yeah. I am mad every time I hear about awful situations like this, but not just in the NFL in the country. If you are mad, do not just tweet about the NFL or write about the NFL. Speak up about the pattern of injustices in the country. Speak up about how we either make money off of someone or throw them away instead of looking to help and heal. This goes beyond Greg Hardy. This goes beyond the Dallas Cowboys. This goes beyond the NFL.
In the end, it is about Nicole Holder and the millions of other Americans who fear for their lives on a daily basis because they are a woman. Or they are black. Or they are gay. Or they, in some way, do not represent the interests of those who make and enforce the laws. In the end, this is about the country we live in. Do you want to speak up? Speak up about America and we can all fix this.