Three of the Carolina Panthers captains said they would support defensive end Greg Hardy's return to the team if he is reinstated this season. Hardy has been inactive since Week 2 after he was convicted in July of assaulting a female and communicating threats.
Hardy has been on the Commissioner's Exempt List since Week 2 in the aftermath of a July conviction for assaulting a female and communicating threats. Earlier this week, his appeal trial was postponed from Nov. 17 until after the season. The Panthers and NFL have said Hardy will remain on the commissioner's list until after the legal process concludes.
Last week, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he thought Hardy should be able to play this year if his trial is postponed until after the season.
Tight end Greg Olsen said would welcome Hardy back to the team, but he has confidence in the league to make the right decision.
"Selfishly, as a player, would we want him as a player on our team? Of course. He makes us better," tight end Greg Olsen told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We also have to understand there's a bigger picture. There's bigger things at play, socially, just the environment we're in. You have to respect that.
"I'm glad I'm not the one making the decisions. I trust that the people that have that power -- mostly on the league side -- will do what's in the best interest of everyone."
Defensive end Charles Johnson called Hardy "a brother of ours" that they would support if he returns.
Center Matt Kalil said Hardy's uncertain future is not a distraction for the team.
"The decision early on was that it was a distraction, the whole situation," center Ryan Kalil said. "My opinion has always been I don't really have control over that stuff. If the decision is he can't come back, then he can't come back. If the decision is he comes back, he comes back. I'll support it either way.
"We have the right people in charge, good guys who will do the right thing. Whatever they decide, I'll back them."
Hardy led the Panthers in sacks last season and is earning $13.1 million this season as the team's franchise player.
The Panthers are 3-5-1 and in second place in the NFC South. They play at the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
- Paul Palladino