IRVING, Texas -- Jeremy Mincey had the locker next to Greg Hardy in 2015 and shared a meeting room with him during the season, so his perspective on the Dallas Cowboys defensive end is different than most.
Speaking on KDFW-TV on Sunday, Mincey said tension grew around Hardy as the season wore on.
"I hate [that] it happened. You talk about a team that was so close knit and tight, and all of a sudden it was just different," Mincey said. "I wouldn't say that he's the reason for that happening, but sometimes change, sometimes if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know what I mean? And sometimes with change, the team is different. Regardless of how great this athlete is and regardless of this and that, if they're not mentally on the same page, you're not going to get the same results."
Coach Jason Garrett was curt with his responses regarding Hardy's possible return a day after the Cowboys' 4-12 season ended. Garrett had numerous discussions with Hardy during the course of the season about off-field issues, ranging from tweets to comments in his news conference upon his return from a four-game suspension.
In November, Hardy met with owner and general manager Jerry Jones after he was late to a number of meetings. Despite the warnings, Hardy never lost his starting spot or playing time. He finished the season with six sacks and earned roughly $8.8 million on the one-year deal he signed last March.
"He sits right beside me, so he's welcomed every day, you know what I mean? I have to deal with him, and being that you have to deal with him, I grew accustomed to a misunderstood person and I got to know him a little better than a lot of people did," Mincey said. "It was tough. It was tough. You know, you got this guy, who you want to be a leader, and then you got that guy. It was just too much."
Hardy is set to be a free agent, as is Mincey, who went from leading the Cowboys with six sacks in 2014 to not having any last season. Mincey said he will need right elbow surgery for the second straight offseason.
Mincey said it would be difficult to bring Hardy back in 2016 for locker room purposes.
"I think it will be good for the younger guys, which I don't know how they feel about him personally, I mean I haven't spoke to them or asked," Mincey said. "It would be me or him, you see what I'm saying? Like, you could have either or. It's hard to have two type of line mentality guys in one room, so it's tough to figure out who the younger guys are going to follow. Of course they're going to look up to a guy who's a prolific player. But I just understand the game, and I know what it takes to win."