The first professional football team run entirely by its fans, the Indoor Football League's Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, is letting those fans decide whether the team should sign troubled ex-NFL defensive end Greg Hardy.
If the fans vote for Hardy to join the team, the Screaming Eagles say they will sign him.
Hardy, 28, is a former Pro Bowler, but trouble with the law has derailed his career. The defensive end was found guilty in 2014 of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her, but the domestic violence charges were dismissed when she failed to appear in court. Hardy was arrested in September 2016 in Richardson, Texas, on a cocaine possession charge after being pulled over for a traffic violation. In a subsequent search of his vehicle, authorities found cocaine and an item containing marijuana remnants. He was later released on $5,000 bond and avoided jail time by pleading guilty to the charge.
"The Greg Hardy vote is a unique opportunity for our fans to be able to make a NFL-caliber decision," said Sohrob Farudi, the team's co-founder and CEO. "Owners and GMs across the NFL made their decision on Greg without consulting their fans. Greg wants a chance to prove himself both on and off the field, and with this vote we'll get a chance to see how fans ultimately feel about a player with a checkered past that wants another opportunity."
Hardy has not played professional football since the 2015 season when he appeared in 12 games for the Dallas Cowboys. He has also submitted an application to play in an independent football league in April and has expressed interest in a MMA career.
"This is probably one of the biggest decisions as a company we've faced," former NFL cornerback and Director of Football Operations Ray Austin said. "Fans all around the world will experience what it feels like to make the tough calls. I'm a firm believer in second chances. I believe Greg understands the magnitude of this opportunity and ready to take on that responsibility."
- Scooby Axson
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