PHOENIX -- Continuing to empty the notebook from my conversation this week with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair ...
When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell opened this year's league meetings, he focused on character and integrity being important to the league. It's an especially relevant topic given the turmoil the league went through last season with domestic violence-related issues.
One of the most high-profile such cases was that of Greg Hardy, a supremely talented pass-rusher who was accused of assaulting and threatening his girlfriend. The Cowboys signed Hardy this offseason, despite the specter of a suspension pending the league's investigation, which Goodell said is still ongoing.
I asked McNair on Monday if the Texans, who could use another elite pass-rusher, considered Hardy.
"No, no," he said quickly. I asked for elaboration. "My gosh, he what? Threw the girl in the shower and picked her up and threw her on the sofa where he had weapons? That’s a pretty violent act. He might want to pick me up and throw me around like that if he doesn’t like what I do. No, he wouldn’t fit in with us."
What McNair referenced were the assault accusations against Hardy, for which he was initially found guilty by a judge. That conviction was set aside when he appealed, as per North Carolina law. The new trial, though, never happened. The charges were dropped when the district attorney couldn't find the accuser. The district attorney's office said they had evidence she had accepted a financial settlement.
McNair often talks about wanting players of good character on his team. They haven't had a single arrest in the three years I've covered them, a rare feat that speaks to that insistence. But just an arrest isn't enough for McNair to give up on a player. Similarly, he stayed away from making any blanket statements about how he would handle domestic violence.
"If it was something that was pretty severe, I don’t think we would want to take a chance on him," McNair said. "If it was more of a 'he said, she said' kind of thing, who knows what the truth is there? It’s hard to judge that."
It's a complex issue and McNair is right to treat it as such, gathering facts rather than making sweeping declarations. And there is a level at which McNair would want to get involved personally.
"If there was a disagreement among our people and some of them said look, this kid, he made a mistake but he has learned, he’s been clean, hasn’t had any problems for the last two years, he’s a great player and he’s somebody we’d like to take a chance with, then I’ll say, 'OK, I’d like to meet him, let's bring him in and talk to him and see for ourselves,'" McNair said. "Or we would investigate more closely. We don’t expect people to be perfect but we don’t want people that are going to be abusing other people and are undisciplined.
"Football is a disciplined sport and if that’s the way they conduct their lives off the field, it’s going to carry over to the field and they won’t be disciplined there and they’ll be making mistakes there that will cost us."