CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Former Carolina Panthers' defensive end Greg Hardy has been suspended without pay for ten games for conduct detrimental to the NFL, the league announced Wednesday.
The league notified the Dallas Cowboys, Hardy's current team, that he would face the punishment for the first ten games of the 2015 regular season. They say he violated the NFL Constitution and By-Laws, the NFL Player Contract, and the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
The suspension stems from an incident involving Hardy's then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, inside his uptown Charlotte condo in May 2014. Hardy was arrested and found guilty in a bench trial. He appealed the plea and was given a jury trial.
Holder did not appear for the second trial and the District Attorney was forced to drop the charges against Hardy.
In a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell, Hardy was told the two-month investigation by the NFL following the dismissal of his case determined that there was sufficient evidence that Hardy engaged in conduct that violated NFL policies.
The NFL's investigation involved numerous interviews with witnesses and experts, a review of hundreds of pages of court records, documents and exhibits, photographs, police reports, medical records, and reports and opinions of medical experts retained by Hardy's attorneys and by the NFL office.
It concluded that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against Holder in at least four instances. The incident happened in May 2014.
"First, he used physical force against her which caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he used physical force against her which caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semi-automatic rifles," a release from the league stated. "Third, he used physical force against her by placing his hands around Ms. Holder's neck and applying enough pressure to leave visible marks. And fourth, he used physical force to shove Ms. Holder against a wall in his apartment's entry hallway."
"The net effect of these acts was that Ms. Holder was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet," Commissioner Goodell wrote.
"The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy."
Goodell noted that Hardy's suspension would be appropriate under any version of the Personal Conduct Policy or its predecessors.
NFL investigators were not able to interview Holder.
"The commissioner's decision is based on findings that are supported by credible corroborating evidence independent of Ms. Holder's statements and testimony, such as testimony of other witnesses, medical and police reports, expert analyses, and photographs," the release stated.
The NFL's investigation also concluded that Hardy failed to provide complete and accurate information to NFL investigators and members of the NFL staff.
Hardy's suspension will begin on September 5, the day of final roster reductions for NFL teams.
He may participate in all preseason activities, including the offseason workout program, organized team activity days, minicamps, training camp, and preseason games. He will be eligible for reinstatement following the Cowboys' 10th game of the regular season.
The first game back from his suspension will be the Cowboys game against the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving Day.
"You must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations of league policies," Commissioner Goodell wrote. "In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your banishment from the NFL."
Hardy may appeal the decision within three days.