Greg Hardy didn’t have a sack. He didn’t have a quarterback hit. He didn’t even have a tackle.
Hardy didn’t have the kind of impact most expected his first time facing his former team. And Hardy didn’t have much of an explanation for his forgettable performance in the Dallas Cowboys’ 33-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving Day.
Asked how the Panthers contained him, Hardy simply said: “They played better than we did.”
Was he disappointed he didn’t make more of an impact? “A loss is a loss.”
All week and after the game, Hardy did his best to avoid buying into the storyline of him facing his former team.
His time in Carolina ended poorly with him spending the final 15 games of last season on the commissioner’s exempt list with his involvement in a May 2014 domestic violence incident.
That incident also cost him the first four games of this season, but Hardy has been embraced by the Cowboys. Most of his former Panthers teammates came to his defense this week, too, including quarterback Cam Newton calling Hardy a “great teammate contrary to popular belief.”
Hardy said it was “good to see old friends” on Thursday, but didn’t address whether his off-field issues have led to misconceptions about him as a teammate.
“That’s a question for our coach, question for our head guys, question for our fans I guess,” Hardy said. “Football question?”
A football question followed asking him about his delayed return from halftime when he sat out the Cowboys’ first defensive series. But that ended up being a non issue.
Hardy said he had an asthma attack, a condition he deals with on a daily basis. That might have left him gassed by the end of the game, as defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said, but Hardy didn’t use that as an excuse for his lack of impact plays.
“He had a little breathing treatment he was having to get,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said. “Other than that, he’s obviously playing hard out there and he needed to get that taken care of, but then came back out. As I said, you saw him, flip on the tape and watch him, guys are playing hard.”
Hardy also deflected a question whether he had any other lingering injures that are slowing him down, saying: “It’s football.”
Instead, credit might be due to Panthers left tackle Michael Oher, who has been playing against Hardy since high school and was his teammate at Ole Miss. And, when Hardy switched positions along the line, the other Panthers offensive linemen made Hardy a non-factor.
Newton is not the easiest guy to track down either.
“Wanted to win,” Hardy said. “Honestly, being the two competitors that we are, if it came down to him hitting me, I’m sure that he would have been excited about that if it would have gotten them the win. That’s what makes Carolina great.
“That’s what’s going to make us great ’cause we’re going to worry about the next game and getting the win. Period.”
Even at 3-8, Hardy is not ready to give up on the season. For as much off-field issues he might have created in his short time with the Cowboys, he is passionate about winning.
When asked if the season’s over, Hardy said, “Not if you focus on the next game.”