IRVING, Texas – While many Cowboys fans were surprised by the 10-game suspension defensive end Greg Hardy received from the NFL, the Cowboys' officials said on Tuesday they were not.
Speaking in the annual pre-draft press conference at Valley Ranch, the topic shifted towards Hardy, who is appealing the 10-game ban that stems from a domestic violence charge that kept him out of football for 15 games last year with the Panthers.
Both Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, said Tuesday they were not surprised by Roger Goodell's decision to suspend Hardy for the first 10 games.
Again, the Cowboys made it clear they knew when they signed Hardy a suspension like this was looming.
"I don't think it turned out any different than what we thought might could happen," Stephen Jones said. "And I think we structured a contract to deal with that and we knew very well something could. Our eyes were wide open on that.
"We delved into it when we brought him in here, and knew that based on what Roger is doing, our commissioner is doing, what the league is doing, that our eyes were wide open to this. It's not a surprise to anybody."
And the Cowboys didn't just do their homework on the current situation with Hardy, but dug much deeper into his past, even relying on defensive assistant Turner West, who went to high school with Hardy in Tennessee.
"With the Greg Hardy situation we did a lot of due diligence," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We talked about this when we signed him. We had a guy on our staff who went to high school with Greg Hardy. We know a lot of people who knew him at the college level, with the Carolina Panthers. It was an exhaustive process that we went through to find out about him. It's not a perfect process but we did our due diligence."
Garrett often speaks of having "the right kind of guy" in the locker room, but said Hardy's off-the-field incidents doesn't prevent him from living up to that status.
"We found about the incident, we found out about where he's been really throughout his life for the last 10 years," Garrett said. "We talked to a lot of people who we know and trust and we brought him in here for a couple days and spent a lot of time with him ourselves. We got our arms around who we think he can be in the right environment. We embraced that decision. He's a heck of a football player who can help our team. We believe we can help him be the right kind of guy. We're embracing this opportunity to have him in here to help create that environment for him to bring out the best in him."
The Cowboys gave Hardy just a one-year deal that could've reached as high as $13 million this year if he played in all 16 games. Hardy gets in the neighborhood of $575,000 for each game he plays. Right now, Hardy is appealing the decision with hopes for a reduced suspension.
Another part of Hardy's contract involves the current offseason program. Hardy can earn up to $1.3 million if he participates in the conditioning program.
Although there was a report of an altercation in the locker room with a teammate that the Cowboys chose not to address on Tuesday, the team seems pleased with Hardy so far.
Stephen Jones described Hardy's first weeks with the team as "good," adding that the coaching staff has no issues.
"Jason has been very pleased. So has Rod. So has Leon," Jones said of Garrett, Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett. "He has had good reports from strength and conditioning guys. He has been in the meetings with the coaches. So it's been good."