Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs players decline to judge Greg Hardy

TAMPA — Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is as disturbed as anyone by the images of the injuries suffered by Greg Hardy's ex-girlfriend in May 2014, which led to his arrest on domestic violence charges.

"Do I condone it? No," McDonald said of the incident. "I've got two little girls."

But even after photos of Hardy's bruised and battered ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, from his now-expunged domestic violence case were made public last week, McDonald isn't ready to condemn the Cowboys defensive end.

"At times like that you need meditation and prayer for the whole situation. For the victim and for the suspect or whatever," McDonald said. "In a sense, both of them are victims. You can say, 'Yeah, this happened to her.' But he's a victim as well."

How is Hardy a victim?

"For him to do it, it came from somewhere," McDonald said. "We're only a product of what we learned. At some point, something happened, not just to him. In the United States, all this stuff that's going on, it's learned behavior. You just don't come out of the womb saying I'm going to hit somebody. I just say my prayers to him, his family, her and her family, and I hope the whole situation gets better with time."

The Bucs host the Cowboys on Sunday, and Hardy has gotten their attention, more for what he can do on the field than what he has done off it.

"He's definitely a game-wrecker, an outstanding player," Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "And they move him around, so that makes it tough to find him."

The Bucs considered signing Hardy in March and went as far as to structure a contract that was mirrored by the Cowboys. But the deal with Tampa Bay would have been contingent on Hardy meeting with the team for evaluation. When that didn't happen, the Bucs withdrew their offer.

"Every player that's available, we're going to do our research on them and come to a conclusion on what direction we need to go," coach Lovie Smith said. "We didn't go in that direction."

On Wednesday, several players weighed in on whether Hardy should be allowed to continuing playing in the NFL. Last year, Hardy was found guilty of domestic violence in a bench trial. But under North Carolina state law, he appealed for a jury trial. The case was thrown out in February when Holder stopped cooperating with authorities.

"I look at it like the guy made a mistake, and everybody deserves another opportunity in life," tackle Demar Dotson said. "If he learned from it, if he realized his mistake and is not willing to go back down that path again, the guy has paid his debt and should be allowed to play football."

Center Evan Smith said he's not focused on Hardy's off-the-field behavior.

"That's up to the league," Smith said. "I'm not going to say one thing or another about it. Plenty of people have expressed their opinions. I just want to go out and play football and focus on my job."

Hardy has appeared tone deaf to some of the scrutiny he has received. He made suggestive comments about Tom Brady's wife before the Cowboys' 30-6 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 11. He got into a sideline altercation with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia during the Cowboys' 27-20 loss to the Giants two weeks later.

"I think that's like Greg being Greg," said Bucs receiver Louis Murphy, who was a teammate of Hardy's in Carolina. "Knowing him on a personal level, he's kind of a free-spirited type of guy. He plays his (tail) off but doesn't really care about what the media says too much. He marches to the beat of his own drum. That's the type of guy he is."

On Wednesday, Hardy posted he was "Innocent until proven guilty-lack of knowledge & information is just ignorance-the unjust/prejudicial treatment of diff categories of people is discrimination," in his Twitter account bio.

Hardy also changed his name on the account to "Perfection." Shortly after the change, Hardy took the bio down.

"We just address issues when they come up and we take care of things in house," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. "We've had to do that a couple of times with Greg."

Comments
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs Jameis Winston gets engaged to long-time girlfriend Breion Allen who says, ‘Well, it’s about damn time’

Bucs Jameis Winston gets engaged to long-time girlfriend Breion Allen who says, ‘Well, it’s about damn time’

On a day when the Royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was taking place across the pond, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston proposed marriage to his long-time girlfriend Breion Allen Saturday in New York City.She said yes.The proposal to...
Published: 05/21/18
Could Bucs find another undrafted rookie tight end in 2018?

Could Bucs find another undrafted rookie tight end in 2018?

At no position is the Bucs' ability to find talent outside the NFL draft more clear than at tight end, where three of the four returning players from last season joined the Bucs as undrafted rookie free agents.Cameron Brate did so in 2014, Alan Cross...
Published: 05/21/18
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Published: 05/21/18
O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

Add another to the long list of Bucs players and coaches excited about first-round pick Vita Vea: offensive line coach George Warhop.Warhop said the 347-pound defensive tackle from Washington kept showing up as he looked at tape on Pac-12 offensive l...
Published: 05/19/18
Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

TAMPA — At least he stopped short of calling them soft. That's not a word you ever want to use when describing an NFL player, much less the entire offensive line. That would be a tough pillow to swallow.But it's clear George Warhop didn't like ...
Published: 05/19/18
Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be honored at Pop Warner's annual "All-American Scholars Banquet" in Orlando with the national sports organization's "Inspiration to Youth" award.McCoy, who has been to six straight Pro Bowls, is the first-ever...
Published: 05/18/18
Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Most appropriately named player on the Bucs roster? Undrafted rookie Shaheed Salmon, a linebacker from Land O'Lakes who has quickly shown the ability to fight against the current and get to where he wants to go.Salmon, 22, wasn't drafted and didn't h...
Published: 05/18/18
Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans and Jameis Winston are two of the 25 best young players in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.In the website's Top 25 Under 25 list, Evans ranks 11th and Winston ranks 20th. Evans is the highest-ranked receiver, and Winston is the hi...
Published: 05/18/18
More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

Perhaps no Bucs player is drawing more consistent praise from coaches than second-year receiver Chris Godwin, who emerged in the second half last year and got his first career touchdown on the Bucs' final pass of the year to beat the Saints in the se...
Published: 05/17/18