Jerry Jones backs Greg Hardy after disturbing photos surface


Jerry Jones backs Greg Hardy after disturbing photos surface

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas owner Jerry Jones showed support for Greg Hardy on Friday after photos of the bruised ex-girlfriend from the defensive end's domestic violence case were released by Deadspin.

Jones said the team hadn't seen the photos before signing Hardy to an incentive-laden $13 million free agent contract in March, but the Cowboys "were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident."

"We do not condone domestic violence," Jones said in a statement released by the team about eight hours after the photos were posted online. "We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism."

As he was leaving the locker room Friday, Hardy ignored a reporter who asked repeatedly if he wanted to address the release of the photos showing various injuries to Nicole Holder.

Deadspin didn't say how the photos were obtained, and the website's account included some previously unreported details from police reports.

Hardy was convicted by a judge over the 2014 incident in North Carolina, but the case was tossed on appeal when Holder couldn't be located to testify. The incident was expunged from Hardy's record this week. Prosecutors have said Holder reached a financial settlement with Hardy.

The NFL sued for access to some of the photos used at Hardy's trial, eventually reaching a settlement. The league suspended him for 10 games while saying that evidence suggested Holder "was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries."

Hardy's suspension under the personal conduct policy was reduced to four games by an arbitrator. He has played three games for the Cowboys (2-5), who have lost five straight games going into a home game against Philadelphia (3-4) on Sunday night.

Before his Dallas debut against New England, Hardy made headlines again with comments about Tom Brady's wife. He also caused a stir with an inappropriate tweet about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during this year's draft.

When the Cowboys gave up a decisive kickoff return in a loss to the New York Giants two weeks ago, Hardy barged into special teams coach Rich Bisaccia's huddle before the next kickoff and had a physical confrontation with the assistant coach.

Through it all, Jones has supported Hardy.

"We have given Greg a second chance," Jones said in his statement. "He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career."

Hardy missed the last 15 games with Carolina in 2014 because of the domestic case but still collected his $13 million salary. He was accused of choking and grabbing Holder and throwing her on a futon that had at least four semi-automatic rifles on it.

The NFL announced a tougher personal conduct policy in August 2014, three months after Hardy's incident and following widespread criticism over its handling of the domestic case involving Ray Rice.

The former Baltimore running back was suspended two games after his arrest for assaulting his then-fiancee on an Atlantic City casino elevator, but before video surfaced on his punch that knocked her out.

The league waited to gain evidence from Hardy's case before suspending him, but arbitrator Harold Henderson ruled the 10-game ban was too long because the tougher policy had established six games as the initial punishment in domestic cases.

Hall of Famer Steve Young believes 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo 'will do a great job'

Hall of Famer Steve Young believes 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo 'will do a great job'

Jimmy Garoppolo, 28, had the first 16-start season of his NFL career.

He is three years ahead of Hall of Famer Steve Young, who did not become the full-time 49ers starter until 1992 at 31.

Young, appearing this week at Letters' to 87 Live! for the Golden Heart Foundation, said he believes Garoppolo showed maturity and development over the course of the season. Young believes Garoppolo has what it takes to lead the 49ers into the Super Bowl.

“He’s been remarkable this year because he’s older, but yet this is his first full season,” said Young, whose thoughts about this year’s team are included in the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast.

Young said the 49ers’ support of the quarterback is similar to when he and, before him, Joe Montana were playing the position.

“The feeling, the spirit, the coaching, the expertise, the talent, all of it together, he’s got the help,” Young said. “So that, as he’s learning, he can make mistakes and he can say, ‘OK, I’ve learned that one.’ And I like the fact that I don’t see the same one again.”

The 49ers play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium. The winner advances to the Super Bowl in Miami on Feb. 2. Garoppolo and his teammates are "locked in," he said.

The 49ers dominant running game grabbled all the headlines out of their 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. But Young was impressed throughout the season that Garoppolo proved he has the ability to lead crucial late-game drives. Garoppolo was credited with four fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives.

“When they’ve asked him to raise up and go win it, he did it,” Young said. “Those are hard things to do. That just doesn’t happen. When you see it in the NFL and someone is able to do it, you go, once you’ve done it, you can do it again. You can keep doing it.

“I don’t think Jimmy cares whether he throws one or five touchdowns. He really enjoys the fact that everybody’s in to win it, and that’s that same spirit. When your leaders of your team are all in with you and are not about themselves, and yet still talented enough to go win games and be heroes, I feel like we’re in a great spot.”

[RELATEDFive 49ers to watch vs. Packers: George Kittle takes center stage]

Young believes the 49ers will win Sunday’s game, but he also cautions about how quickly things can go awry. After all, the 49ers’ season will come down to one 60-minute game and approximately eight to 10 offensive and defensive possessions.

“He’s ready to do great things,” Young said. “If something goes wrong, I don’t think it’ll be Jimmy. I think he’ll do a great job.”

So what can go wrong for the 49ers? Young looks across the field and believes it will take something special from a very special player to prevent the 49ers from advancing.

“If Aaron Rodgers is Superman and he puts his cape on and does something only he can do, and if that happens, we’ll tip our cap and we’ll move on,” Young said. “But that’s the only way we’re losing this ball game.”

Why 49ers' Kwon Alexander has big role no matter how much he plays


Why 49ers' Kwon Alexander has big role no matter how much he plays

SANTA CLARA -- Kwon Alexander has gone through more than two weeks of 49ers practice after returning from a pectoral injury earlier than anyone expected.

The linebacker was worn a blue non-contact jersey the entire time since being designated to return from injured reserve.

Alexander finally took it off last week for the divisional-round playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The tackling machine didn’t show up in the stat sheet but was no worse for the wear heading into Sunday’s NFC Championship game against Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium.

Even six days after his first career playoff game, Alexander didn’t want to address how -- or if -- he felt better, stronger or faster.

“We feel legendary every week,” Alexander said Friday. “We all come to work with no doubts in our body about how we’re going to perform.”

That, more than anything else in his current state, shows his value to this 49ers team. He’ll never say it, but he’s not at full strength. That would be impossible so soon after a major injury many initially thought might end his season.

Alexander’s positivity is palpable in everything he says and how he acts around the team.

“It’s extremely real with Kwon,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “He’s like that every second, and our guys gravitate to him. I think just the same way fans feel about him, that’s how we feel about him. Kwon is ride or die in everything he does for this football team. He will go out there, he plays that way when he’s healthy, he plays that way when he’s hurt. He talks that way. He lives football. That’s why his football character is one of the highest I’ve been around. That’s just his character as a man, to me, is just that way too.”

The team loves Alexander’s energy, and he appreciates how much they have supported him through a trying first season in Santa Clara. He signed a four-year deal in free agency, but Alexander played in just eight regular-season games due to the aforementioned injury.

“The people in this building are so great,” Alexander said. “They all really care for me. That was a big part of my decision to come, to be around people who care for you. I think really think we can do great things around here.”

The 49ers played great against the Vikings, even though Alexander didn’t have a tangibly productive day.

He didn’t have tackle and missed a few last week against the Vikings, per Pro Football Focus, but he could be felt on film while working as a strongside linebacker. He came out in sub packages, with Dre Greenlaw manning the weak side. The rookie has done that since Alexander got hurt and has fared extremely well.

[RELATED: 49ers list no injuries ahead of NFC title game vs. Packers]

Shanahan was predictably non-committal about specific roles earlier in the week, but they could well stay the same. Alexander doesn’t seem to care. He’s just happy to be playing with his teammates on such a big stage.

“As long as we keep flying around and making plays, we’re going to be alright,” Alexander said. “That’s for sure.”