Carolina Panthers sidelines Hardy as pressure builds on NFL

Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:29pm EDT
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By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - The NFL's Carolina Panthers deactivated defensive end Greg Hardy for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, according to the team's website, in a reversal of an earlier decision to let him play while he appeals a domestic violence conviction.

The move comes after a week of fierce criticism over the National Football League's handling of a domestic violence case involving three-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice. The episode has raised questions about the league's credibility and prompted calls for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step down, while rekindling a national discussion about the abuse of women.

The Panthers listed Hardy as inactive about two hours before the team's home opener against the Lions. It offered no reason, and officials of the team could not be reached immediately for comment. As late as Friday, the team indicated Hardy, who was found guilty by a judge of assaulting his former girlfriend, would continue to play while he was appealing.

Adding to the league's embarrassment, Minnesota Vikings' star running back Adrian Peterson was arrested on Saturday and charged with injuring a child after using a switch to spank his son, his lawyer said. The Vikings deactivated Peterson on Friday immediately after the allegations surfaced.

"We started the week with players beating up women. We ended the week with players beating up children," retired NFL player Tom Jackson said on Sunday during ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown." "We are in a very serious state in the National Football League."

Before the Vikings' home game against the New England Patriots, some fans at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis wearing Peterson jerseys in a show of support for the star running back.

Hardy's deactivation renewed questions over whether the San Francisco 49rs would still allow defensive end Ray McDonald to play in a Sunday night game against Chicago.

McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 on suspicion of causing physical injuries to his fiance at his home. The team said early last week he would play on Sunday while authorities investigate his case and decide whether to charge him.   Continued...

Sep 7, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy warms-up before facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports