Carolina Panthers fans react to Greg Hardy being benched Sunday
CHARLOTTE — Two hours before kick-off Sunday, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was deactivated from the game against the Detroit Lions.
Fans learned the news as they headed into Bank of America stadium for the 1 p.m. kickoff.
Game-day excitement waned as news broke that the defensive end would not be playing in Sunday’s game, according to WSOC.
“Leave the guy alone until the court says he’s guilty, then bust his chops if he did it,” Roger Dean, a Panthers fan said.
Loyal fans such as Dean said they are frustrated the decision was made last minute and seemingly because of public pressure.
“Look at all the news. Look at all they said about all three of these guys, Peterson [Vikings player Adrian Peterson] and the guy in Baltimore,” Dean said.
Dean is referring to Ray Rice. The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice last week after a video went public which showed Rice punching his now-wife in an elevator.
Some thought it surprising that Hardy, who in July was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, was going to be allowed to play in Sunday’s game.
“It is sad he’s not playing but I mean, you can’t hit a woman. It’s not right,” said Caitlin Brewer, a Panthers fan.
A few days ago, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Hardy would play Sunday and that Rivera said that wouldn’t change until after Hardy’s appeal trial.
“For now we’re just going to continue with the process,” Rivera said Thursday referring to the legal process.
Some fans were angry to learn Hardy arrived at the stadium today before the decision to deactivate him was made.
“Even the appearance of it is pretty bad,” said Mark Sanger, who came from Winston-Salem for Sunday’s Panthers game. “It’s probably better not to have him on the field and just protect the brand, protect the panthers and protect women.”
Even though Hardy did not play today, he still will be paid $770,000 for the game.
Hardy is due in court on Nov. 17 to appeal the guilty verdict handed down against him in July. This time, a jury will decide his fate.