Since the rise of Twitter’s popularity as a vessel for fans to communicate with and access the unfiltered thoughts of celebrities, professional athletes and politicians, these high-profile individuals have used it as a tool in their public relations campaigns. This is no different in the case of former Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
The last two years have been tumultuous for Hardy. In July of 2014, he was found guilty of assaulting a woman and communicating threats. He was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, but his 60-day jail sentence was suspended. Hardy’s lawyer unsurprisingly appealed the charges, and an additional trial was slated to take place in February. The victim — Hardy’s girlfriend at the time, Nicole Holder — did not show up at the trial, and the courts eventually concluded that Holder and Hardy had reached some sort of settlement prior to the second trial. In turn, they dismissed the domestic violence charges.
Even though the charges were dismissed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell officially suspended Hardy in April of 2015 for 10 regular season games. But that suspension was reduced to four games in July of 2015. Fast forward to November of 2015, and the charges were fully expunged from Hardy’s record. Graphic photos of Holder’s injuries following the assault were subsequently released by Deadspin , a popular online sports news site, displaying bruises on her back and neck. Nonetheless, Hardy went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys under a one-year, $11.3 million contract in the 2015-16 season. His return was short-lived: He was released at the conclusion of the regular season and is now a free agent.
Hardy’s professional career deteriorated quickly, and rightfully so. Holder alleged that Hardy had flung her against the bathroom wall on multiple occasions, and threw her onto a couch covered in guns. Her story checks out – Hardy explained he only owned a small handgun, but ten assault rifles were confiscated from his home by authorities. The fact that Hardy even stepped back onto the field after those incidents is ludicrous.
The NFL has a history of failing to sufficiently penalizing athletes who have committed domestic violence — just look at the Ray Rice case — and that was no different in the case of Hardy. A significant factor that went into the Cowboys’ decision not to resign the 27-year-old player was that he simply did not play as well as they would have hoped; not that they refused to employ an athlete who had so clearly committed such heinous crimes. If he had in fact played to his full potential, he might be prepping for training camp with the Cowboys instead of rebuilding his image on social media with photos of children and tweets about hard work.
That’s right. In recent days, Hardy has changed his Twitter handle, made an image with schoolchildren his background photo and changed his profile picture to a photo with a baby. His Twitter bio is: “You cant be 100% perfect but try2 evaluate things & do whats right if you just make every effort 2 do the right thing you will comeout OK -Archie Manning [sic].” That was not edited in an effort to show how “hard” Hardy is working to shift the public’s opinion of his work ethic.
Hardy’s attempts to regain the public’s popularity are honestly comical. His Twitter handle used to be @OverlordKraken, but now it is the docile @GregHardyJrInstead of rap lyrics comprising the content of most of his tweets, now the hashtags #RiseandGrind and #WorkEthic populate his page.
To me, and I am assuming most people, it is almost humorous that Hardy thinks that making a few edits on his Twitter page will redeem his professional and personal image in the eyes of the NFL and the public. It feels a bit like a lost cause, but more importantly, it feels like the laziest route that a public figure could have taken to redeem himself.
Hardy has never expressed regret over his actions, for he has never admitted them. He has never volunteered to raise awareness for domestic violence, because in his view, that was never something he was involved with. In an effort to shift people’s view of him, he took absolutely zero action to show that he has genuinely changed.
With Hardy showing such a half-hearted attempt at redemption, he might have been truly a lost cause in the past. But everything has changed in the age of social media. Even though Hardy will not touch the term domestic violence with a ten-foot pole, he can still place himself alongside smiling children on a Twitter account that has over 20,000 followers. He can project an image of hard work, dedication and perseverance, even when his is truly one of denial, disappointment and violence.
Still, the mere fact that Hardy is using Twitter in this fashion shows how powerful social media has become in recent years. Twitter is the location where people can have the closest and arguably most genuine communication with athletes, and thus it makes sense that Twitter would be the place for Hardy to reconnect with those who praised him in the past. He is appealing to the image of the NFL player that the public adores: the hard-working role model whom young children and athletes look up to and admire. If he can appear as such on Twitter, then social media is not only powerful, but it is dangerous. Hardy’s use of Twitter is essentially an attempt at gaining forgiveness without taking any of the action traditionally associated with earning it.
Based on the baggage Hardy still carries around, it is unlikely that this Twitter makeover will land him a contract. For now, Hardy’s Twitter will be his most powerful asset: not his speed, strength or football talent. Right now, his job is in public relations, and he is spending little time on the field. That is why this tweet from May 2015 that Hardy retweeted is so ironic.
Well @Blau_Ozean, looks like that has changed.
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