SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Convicted Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy said he wants to remain with the Carolina Panthers beyond this season.
Hardy addressed the media before Sunday’s practice but refused to answer specific questions about his recent conviction on two domestic violence charges except to say, “I hate that I have distracted my team.”
Hardy did not show any remorse during a six-minute interview and didn’t offer an apology to the victim in the domestic dispute.
Hardy, the team’s franchise player, was convicted this month of assaulting a female and communicating threats and sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence and 18 months’ probation following a May 13 incident in which he attacked his ex-girlfriend in his apartment. Hardy is appealing the conviction.
When asked directly and indirectly about his conviction, Hardy replied on six different occasions “I can’t answer that question.”
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman last week refused to discuss how the conviction might impact Hardy’s long-term future with the team.
Gettleman would only say Hardy is under contract for one season.
Gettleman had briefly considered a long-term contract for Hardy earlier this offseason, but eventually made him the team’s franchise player. Hardy quickly signed the one-year tender in March, paying him $13.1 million for one season.
Hardy said he was glad to sign the tender.
“It’s awesome,” Hardy said. “I get to stay another year and hang out with my guys and play some football. Nothing really wrong with that.”
Hardy said his goal is to re-sign with Carolina at some point.
“I love this place,” Hardy said. “This is a great atmosphere. I love the ownership (and) my teammates. I have had a great five years here.”
Hardy, entering his fifth NFL season, tied a franchise-record with 15 sacks last season and has 26 over the past two seasons as a starter.
Hardy is clearly hoping his on-field success outweighs the negative publicity he created off the field.
Asked if he thinks he will remain in Carolina long term, Hardy said, “We will see. Play a good season and hopefully when you talk to Mr. Gettleman you can convince him to keep me.”
The Panthers have decided to follow the league’s lead and not suspend Hardy pending the outcome of his appeal in a jury trial.
Jordan Gross, who played 11 seasons for the Panthers before retiring earlier this year, said he believes the team is making the right decision.
“One thing that the organization does really well is they don’t make rash decisions,” Gross said. “That sometimes comes at the cost of looking like maybe they are not making a decision at all. But I believe the best thing to do is let everything play out. … In life it’s good to let your emotions die down a little bit and think a little more logically. I think that is what the team is doing and what the league is doing, too.”
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