The Raiders owner Mark Davis denied that his team is in contract talks with the toxic former Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, calling any report of that information was “false, falser and falsest.”
“That is not true,” Davis told San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami.
There were reports Thursday night that the Raiders had interest in Hardy, though a league source told CSNCalifornia.com on Friday that no contract talks occurred. Interest, however, is a vague term. There are some differences of opinion within the Raiders organization regarding Hardy, who is on the commissioner’s exempt list after missing 15 games last season dealing with a domestic violence charge. Whether that constitutes organizational interest is fuzzy.
Hard was convicted but had the decision overturned on appeal, when the accuser declined to participate following a reported financial settlement.
The NFL is still considering a suspension for the 2015 season, but Hardy is free to sign with any team this offseason. There was little talk of Hardy before Thursday night. Teams have been hands off in public because association with him promises bad press.
While the Raiders have money to spend and are in real need of a pass-rushing defensive end -- and Hardy is a talented one -- Davis made his opinion crystal clear. He has previously said, in no uncertain terms, that perpetrators of domestic violence will not be accepted. Davis has spoken out against it on several occasions.
Davis was asked if his stance means the Raiders will rule out signing Hardy or pursuing him in the future.
“I’m not saying that, because I don’t know the details of the Hardy situation, but I’m saying that he’s somebody we are not negotiating with and I don’t believe we would be interested in at this point in time,” Davis told Kawakami. “I can tell you this: It has not been brought up to me and it would have to come to me. ... I’ve said I’d rather be right than be consistent, but in this situation, I’m going to say that consistency is the most important.”
Davis was vocal against domestic violence following the release of a video showing Baltimore running back Ray Rice hitting his girlfriend. Former Raiders receiver Fred Biletnikoff’s daughter was murdered by a boyfriend who was abusing her, which was a tragedy that struck a chord with Davis and the extended Raiders family.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has bee committed to bringing in character players. Some have had minor issues, but the Raiders investigate backgrounds thoroughly and they try to ensure their players stay off the police blotter.
“We put that emphasis on it,” McKenzie said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I learned that from Ted Thompson in Green Bay. You have to be able to count on guys. Are they going to be at every practice, every game, won’t have to be stuck in some suspension deal? So, when I came here, that was one of the things I wanted to make sure our scouting department and our coaches knew. I want to treat this locker room as if I was in it. I want to be able to look left and right and these are the guys I want to play with. Character is huge.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to bring in guys with any issues. We’re going to bring in some guys with some issues. But when we get the information and it says, ‘you probably don’t want to do this guy,’ we’re going to look into it. There are some issues that a guy was maybe a freshman or sophomore and they did some stupid stuff, but they’ve been solid after that, you take everything into account. You take into account all the information you get from the staffers at that school or whether it was the police or psychologists. All the information you can get, you filter through it. We do take in the background checks, the character of the guys, and make a determination.”