Panthers GM: Greg Hardy taking 'voluntary leave of absence'

Hardy stepping away from Panthers during domestic violence case

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Greg Hardy will take a voluntary leave of absence with pay until legal proceedings are resolved, according to Carolinas Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman.

The news came at a press conference Wednesday just  hours after sources confirmed to ESPN that the Carolina Panthers and Greg Hardy were discussing the possibility of placing the defensive end on the NFL's exempt list.

"We understand Greg's decision and given the circumstances, it is very important he concentrates on his legal issues," Gettleman said, "We believe that this is the right course of action at this time."

Officials say Hardy will be put on the exempt list, and will remain on the list until the legal process runs its course.

"I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter," Hardy said.

He continued, "I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that's where my focus should be. I appreciate the Panthers for giving me this opportunity and look forward to being back with my teammates as soon as possible. I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the Carolina Panthers organization during our season. My decision to take a leave of absence allows me to focus on my family until the legal process has run its course."

Hardy is currently appealing a judge's guilty verdict that he assaulted his ex-girlfriend.

He was deactivated hours before the Panthers played the Detroit Lions on Sunday and did not play.

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera defended his late decision to make Hardy inactive by saying the "climate has changed" in the NFL and the team "has to get this right."

Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, inside his uptown Charlotte condo last May.

Hardy was sentenced to 60 days in prison followed by an 18-month probation after he assaulted his 24-year-old ex-girlfriend.

His attorney requested an appeal before a jury trial in superior court, meaning his sentence and probation will be suspended until a jury trial can be completed.

WBTV spoke to Charlotte Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, about the recent NFL controversy. Kimble's daughter Jamie died in September 2012, after her ex-boyfriend shot her to death in Tampa, Florida. He then turned the gun on himself.

"Our daughter was literally an angel on Earth," Kimble said.

Kimble's killer was an employee of the Kansas City Chiefs. Ron Kimble tells WBTV his daughter broke up with the man just weeks before he killed her. Now, Kimble and his wife are reaching out to the NFL to offer their help.

"The NFL was special to Jamie," Kimble said.

Kimble says he would like to share his daughters story to help the NFL spread awareness of the consequences of domestic violence.

For more information about Jamie Kimble click here. Her parents started a foundation to help other victims.

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