Photos of Greg Hardy's bruised ex-girlfriend published online

Photos of NFLer's injured ex released online
Photos of NFLer's injured ex released online

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Story highlights

  • Greg Hardy was playing for the Carolina Panthers when police responded to a call at his apartment
  • He was convicted of assault but appealed that trial and the case was dismissed in February
  • A free agent, Hardy signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys then sat out four games after NFL suspended him

(CNN)On the field, defensive end Greg Hardy is one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers. Off the field and on the sidelines, the past year and a half have been turbulent for the 27-year-old Dallas Cowboys player.

Things got worse Friday when 47 photos, 44 of them showing bruises on Hardy's former girlfriend from an alleged assault last year, were published by Deadspin.
The photos were taken by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police after an incident involving Hardy and Nicole Holder in May 2014, Deadspin reported. Hardy was playing for the Carolina Panthers at the time.
    Deadspin on Friday posted the photos, along with documents from the case. CNN has not independently verified the photographs, which show a woman with bruises on her chin, neck, back, arms, hands, legs and feet. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police referred CNN to one of the detectives in the case who did not immediately respond to a request for the photos.
    CNN requested comment from Holder's attorneys about the photographs but didn't hear back. Hardy did not speak to the media after the Cowboys returned to the locker room after practice. CNN reached out to an attorney for Hardy but didn't get a response.
    The Cowboys, who signed Hardy in the offseason as a free agent, said they did their due diligence before offering him a contract. On Friday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said team officials were seeing the photos for the first time.
    "While we did not have access to the photos that became public today, we were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident. We as an organization take this very seriously. We do not condone domestic violence," Jones said. "We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career."
    A North Carolina judge this year ruled only a few parties involved in the league's investigation could see the photographs. That would not include teams.
    The photos, much like a video posted by TMZ that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious in a casino elevator, have refocused a negative light on the NFL and how it handles domestic abuse.

    Legal proceedings

    Hardy was tried and found guilty of misdemeanor assault and communicating threats by a Mecklenburg County judge in July 2014, but appealed for a jury trial.
    During that time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell placed Hardy, who was with the Carolina Panthers at the time, on the exempt list. Hardy collected his $13 million salary though he played just one game last season.
    Hardy's case was dismissed before trial in February. Sources close to the situation told Bleacher Report earlier this year that authorities in North Carolina wanted to subpoena Holder but couldn't find her.
    This week, an attorney for the NFL star told CNN affiliate WBTV that the charges had been expunged from Hardy's record.

    Hardy changes teams

    The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year contract in March. A month later, after Hardy had been suspended, team Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones told reporters the team "was very aware of the things that went on (in the incident)."
    Coach Jason Garrett said the team went through an exhaustive process investigating Hardy, who made the All-Pro team after the 2013 season.
    Hardy was originally suspended without pay by the NFL for 10 games, but an independent arbitrator reduced the penalty to the first four games of the 2015 season.
    When the NFL originally announced Hardy's suspension, it said the league's investigation concluded that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against the woman in at least four instances: First, he caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semiautomatic rifles. Third, he placed his hands around her neck and applied enough pressure to leave marks. And fourth, he shoved her against a wall in his apartment's entry hallway.
    The NFL sued the state of North Carolina in Superior Court to get seven photographs from the 2014 trial. In the court's order granting the NFL's request, access to the photos was limited to the league, the players' union, Hardy, attorneys and independent experts who might be asked to review the photos in helping the league decide its punishment.

    More trouble this season

    Hardy has played in three games this season, recording three sacks and one interception. But he's been making headlines for his actions off the field.
    In the locker room just before his return to games, calling his time away "the most awesome period of my life."
    "I hope I come out guns blazing," the man who was once accused of throwing a woman onto a couch full of assault rifles and bragging that they were loaded said in October. "I'm full of excitement and full of juice. I'm ready to go."
    Hardy also cracked jokes and talked about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, according to The Dallas Morning News.
    "I love seeing Tom Brady, he's cool as crap," Hardy said. "Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys."
    Then during an October 25 loss to the New York Giants, Hardy got into a heated discussion with injured receiver Dez Bryant and Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia. Hardy swiped at Bisaccia's clipboard before he was pulled away from a huddle.
    After the game, Bryant and other Cowboys downplayed the incidents.