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Roger Goodell hands Greg Hardy hearing to Harold Henderson

Roger Goodell

NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference following a meeting of NFL owners and executives in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. The meetings were held to help the NFL develop and carry out a domestic violence educational program. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Roger Goodell is handing the ball off, but he’s giving it to a guy with a familiar playbook.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the commissioner is waiving his right to hear the appeal of Greg Hardy’s 10-game suspension, and is instead passing it off to Harold Henderson.

On a week when the NFL has plenty of other fires to put out, that could potentially create another one.

Henderson also heard the appeal of Adrian Peterson’s suspension, and upheld Goodell’s findings, based on the idea that Goodell was within his rights to apply the league’s new domestic violence policy to a case that predated its existence. As you might imagine, the NFLPA wasn’t really cool with that, questioning Henderson’s neutrality from the start.

Of course, the union will almost certainly take the decision to court if Henderson rubber-stamps Goodell’s findings this time through. They did that last time, and Judge David Doty sent the case back to Henderson, ordering a repeat of the appeals process. That never happened, because Peterson was reinstated before it could occur.

But with that as context, it’s also worth noting that when the league suspended Hardy for 10 games, they never used the words “domestic violence,” referring to it only as “conduct detrimental to the league,” a much broader scope.

Goodell has suspended players for eight (Chris Henry) and 16 games (Adam Jones) for conduct detrimental in the past, so they could argue that Hardy’s 10 is not out of line.

Regardless, handing it off to Henderson just creates another legal drama. Goodell has proven he’s willing to lose in court if it means winning in the court of public opinion, so digging in and then doubling down on Hardy shouldn’t be a surprise.