(Reuters) - The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday placed Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy on the National Football League’s exempt list, meaning he will not play until his domestic violence case is settled.
Hardy was convicted in July of domestic violence, but has appealed the verdict, which entitles him to a jury trial under North Carolina law. The date for his trial is Nov. 17.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters, noting that Hardy, who will be paid during the leave, agreed to the move. “Our overriding goal has always been to do the right thing.”
The Panthers’ move came after the Minnesota Vikings made the same decision with running back Adrian Peterson, who is accused of beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch.
”I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter,“ Hardy said in a statement. ”I am entitled to my day in court and that’s where my focus should be.
“I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the Carolina Panthers organization during our season. My decision to take a leave of absence allows me to focus on my family until the legal process has run its course.”
Hardy, who led the team with 15 sacks last season, can be at the team facility but cannot attend practice.
“We’re disappointed. He’s an outstanding player, obviously,” said Gettleman. “We have to get this right. He has to get this right.”
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Hardy was “hurt” when they talked on Wednesday.
“It’s a tough situation and (Hardy) knows he put himself in it,” Rivera told a news conference. “He was apologetic with me. We had a great conversation. It was unfortunate it was under these circumstances. ... He does expect to be back in November.”
Hardy, who was deactivated for last Sunday’s game against Detroit after playing in the season-opener against Tampa Bay, was convicted by a district judge on two counts of domestic assault and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.
”There are two ladies in this building and they answer the phones,“ Rivera said. ”People call and get after them about decisions that I make. They don’t deserve to have that.
“They’re people, they’re women, they’re mothers, they’re sisters, they’re grandmothers. ... I struggle with that. That makes it very hard on me.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney