Greg Hardy in ESPN interview: 'I'm an innocent man'

Former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy sat down with Adam Schefter for an interview that aired Monday and Tuesday on ESPN during which Hardy repeatedly told Schefter he is an "innocent man."

Hardy was arrested on charges of assault on a female and communicating threats in May 2014. Hardy was found guilty by a judge in July 2014 and requested a jury trial later that year. In February 2015, prosecutors dismissed the domestic abuse charges after the accuser, former girlfriend Nicole Holder, could not be found. Hardy initially was suspended 10 games in April 2015 for conduct detrimental to the league, but the suspension later was reduced to four games on appeal.

"I've never put my hand on any women ... in my whole entire life, no sir," Hardy said. "That's just not how we're raised. As you can tell, like I said again, it's the Bible belt. It's just something that's, I wouldn't even say frowned upon, just something that's nonexistent in most southern homes.

"I'm an innocent man. I've been proven not guilty and that's a situation in my past. As a grown man, as a football player of my caliber there are situations ... I could have done better, I should have done better.

"I will stop you there and say that I didn't say that I didn't do anything wrong. That situation occurred and that situation was handled but ... saying that I did nothing wrong is a stretch but saying I am innocent is correct. Yes sir."

Last November, Deadspin.com released photo evidence of Holder that were taken within a day of when she said Hardy attacked her in 2014. When asked about the photos, Hardy told Schefter: "Pictures are pictures and they can be made to look like whatever they want to."

Hardy, who signed with the Cowboys last season, returned to the field in Week 5 after sitting out most of the 2014 season on the Commissioner's Exempt list. Hardy created a stir when he said he was to "come out guns blazing" in his return to game action. Hardy responded to the criticism of his comment and past insensitive remarks on social media.

"Like I said I put myself in a situation where I could be attacked. In my head at the time, I'm an entertainer. ... I do interviews and try to be entertaining. I just don't remember my situation while I'm being an entertainer. As the Kraken five years, it's definitely ingrained and you know where the line is and two years out coming back I couldn't see that line being a Cowboy, thinking about cowboys guns blazing, just trying to make the fans laugh and smile."

It has been a well over a month since free agency began. Hardy has yet to yield interest from any of the 32 clubs.

"I want people to know that I want to be a part of a championship team, be a part of a big thing," Hardy said. "... I think the 'monster' comes from being the Kraken, and I ask that people separate my business from my actual personal record and give me a shot to step up and continue to break records and work harder than anyone else and myself."

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