Thursday, November 14, 2013
Spotlight can't help but find Hardy
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Welcome to the latest installment of the "Wonderful World of Hardy."
That's the world of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy in case you missed previous installments. I promised you there would be several before the season when the player who calls himself "Kraken'' set his goal at 50 sacks.
Since then Hardy's had several colorful moments. Two weeks ago, he reiterated a comment from last season about Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant being "small and weird-shaped.''
Today's installment is courtesy of "Monday Night Football." Or, shall I say, a tradition that used to be part of the prime time game.
Hardy apparently didn't get the memo that the telecast no longer includes players introducing themselves and where they went to college or high school.
He seemed terribly disappointed when told he wouldn't get that opportunity for Monday night's showdown against the New England Patriots.
"You get nothing?'' Hardy said. "It's Tom Brady, man! Something's got to happen! I'm going to pretend like it's for me and then go celebrate.''
Hardy likes the pageantry side of football as well as the smash-mouth side. No Carolina player is more animated during pregame introductions.
There are times when you'd swear he's been body-snatched by former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whose pregame dance routine before last year's Super Bowl was almost as memorable as the game.
"That's man to man, individual,'' Hardy said. "It's inside of you. Man, whatever it feels like it means to you. Like to me, I feel like a little kid out there. It's cool. It's the time like before I go into game mode, before I actually have to go to work.''
Alas, Hardy will have to settle for in-game pageantry if he wants to do something special for the television crowd.
There's a chance that might happen. He's second on the team in sacks with five and leads the team with 20 quarterback pressures. Brady already has mentioned him and Charles Johnson, who leads Carolina with 8.5 sacks, as players he'll have to contend with.
"I appreciate that,'' Hardy said. "You've got to respect the fact a man like that is going to give you credit. I'm going to give him his respect and then I'm going to go do my job. Thank you for that and good luck.''
As for those pregame introductions, Hardy may get the chance if the Panthers (6-3) extend this five-game winning streak. They do the intros on the Sunday night telecasts, and Carolina's Week 14 game in New Orleans could be a prime candidate to move to prime time as a part of the league's flex scheduling.
Stay tuned. The next "Wonderful World of Hardy'' installment is only an interview away.