“If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way.”Lance Armstrong
“A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.”John Wayne
I’m a big believer in second chances.
We all make mistakes – ever since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, people have been screwing up and making mistakes with regularity. Within the past year I made a mistake of epic proportions (as well as a series of connected mistakes) that hurt people close to me, including someone I swore I would never hurt. But I did. I had to own up to what I did and face the consequences of my actions. There are no guarantees I will ever get back all that I lost. No guarantees that the hurt I caused will ever disappear. No guarantees except that I will come out of this a different person because of the things I am doing to change who I am – things I am doing to become a better person. But that may never be enough and that’s on me. My fault.
That brings us to the ever-evolving saga of Greg Hardy.
Because second chances start with an apology.
And Hardy isn’t sorry.
As the NFL season moves past the halfway point, Hardy continues to make headlines with his unapologetic attitude and lack of remorse for abusing and beating then girlfriend Nicole Holder. Pictures taken of Holder – pictures that show the bruises Hardy caused when he beat her up – were released last week and amplify the magnitude of what Hardy did. When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed Hardy in the off-season, he said all the right words about leadership and second chances, but Hardy has a long way to go before anybody can look at him as a leader.
Hardy was convicted in a bench trial in North Carolina but the charges were dropped after he appealed for a jury trial and Holder didn’t testify. The charges were later expunged from his criminal record. Victims often refuse to testify in domestic violence cases – 70% of the time charges are dropped when victims fail to appear. The legal system in our country is not supportive to victims of domestic violence – forcing a person to testify often puts the victim in greater danger and further victimizes him/her. Victims of domestic violence have to make decisions that are in their own best interests, and many times that means not taking the stand against their attackers. The burden of getting victims to testify and building cases that can bring about convictions without their testimony falls on the justice system. Holder’s failure to testify doesn’t get Hardy off the hook.
Hardy made a statement Wednesday that he was innocent until proven guilty and is a victim of discrimination on Twitter. Really.
“Innocent until proven guilty-lack of knowledge & information is just ignorance- the unjust/prejudicial treatment of diff categories of people is discrimination”
Hardy needs to follow the example of Ray Rice. Rice owned up to his actions and has taken a stand against domestic violence. Rice has taken significant steps to right his wrongs, going through counseling, and speaking out publicly about the seriousness of domestic violence. Rice has held himself accountable.
"To the survivors of domestic violence, I understand how real it is, and I don't want to ever take that for granted because this is a real issue in our society," Rice said earlier this year. "My video put the light out there -- if you have never seen what domestic violence looks like and you look at my video, I could understand why some people would never forgive me. I want to work my whole life so my daughter, when she's old enough to Google my name and Google what happened, I'll be able to change the tune on that because I want to be able to help others never make the decision I made."
There are no guarantees for Hardy if he comes clean and admits what he did - no guarantees for me or anyone else who make mistakes either. “I’m sorry” is only the first step in many that have to be taken. Holding yourself accountable and working hard to change who you are, the way you live, and repair the damage you caused is only a step towards finding forgiveness. You have to earn that second chance.
Greg Hardy hasn’t earned his second chance.
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For anyone interested, there’s a fast-growing sports petition at change.org to get Hardy out of the NFL. If you have a hard time supporting the NFL while the league allows domestic abusers to play, please take a moment to sign. You can find the petition HERE