- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 8, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The words “second chance” have never had less meaning than when used in a vile, self-serving statement issued by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

I looked up the words “second chance” on the web to search for different meanings.

I found the “Second Chance Foundation” in Naples, Florida, an organization committed to scholarships for “service-minded people who didn’t qualify for other scholarships.”

I found the “Second Chance Foundation of Philadelphia,” whose mission is to “raise funds to provide financial assistance and resources to vital community-based organizations that serve ‘at-risk’ children, young adults and families to help them lead more productive lives.”

There is the “Second Chance Fund” for the American Humane Society, which helps offset the cost of treating homeless animal victims of abuse or neglect by helping “agencies that rescue, care for, and re-home abused or neglected animals.”

“Life’s Second Chance Foundation” is an organization to building a new cancer hospital and training center in Ethiopia and to create awareness of the “growing and nearly unchecked cancer problem in Ethiopia.”

Then there is Jones and his vulgar use of the words to describe why his team has put money in the pocket of an unrepentant abuser like Greg Hardy, whose case was exposed to a disturbing level over the weekend by Deadspin, with graphic photos and descriptions about the beating Hardy gave his former girlfriend. It’s a case that, despite being found guilty by a North Carolina judge last year, was later dismissed after a “settlement” by the victim, who then refused to cooperate in the case heard on appeal by Hardy.

Hardy managed to find the courage to express a pathetic attempt at remorse — after the photos were made public, of course — when he wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday that he expressed regret for “what happened in the past.”
That’s OK, Greg. Jerry’s got your back.

“While we did not have access to the photos that became public today, we were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident,” Jones said in a statement issued by the Cowboys. “We as an organization take this very seriously. We do not condone domestic violence. We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance. 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.”

There you go — a second chance. Scholarships for needy kids. Programs for at-risk youth. A hospital for cancer patients. Shelter for abused animals. And now $11 million for Hardy to help bring Jones and the Cowboys pornographic glory.

Jerry’s tongue should shrivel up inside his remodeled head for using those words.

This isn’t about a “second chance.” This is about Jones‘ warped view of what’s right and wrong. What’s right for Jerry is to pay whoever he needs to for the greater good of the Cowboys’ pornographic glory. What’s wrong for Jerry is look himself in the mirror and say, “Not me. I’m not going to put this guy in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. I’m not going to let this guy represent the organization, its players, coaches and employees — and its fans.”

The whole notion of “second chance” has become twisted in cases like Hardy, an absolution without consequence. A “second chance” doesn’t mean you pick up your life where you left off — on the football field, of all places, making millions of dollars ­— as if nothing ever happened.

A second chance for those like Hardy means you take responsibility for your actions and you make the changes you need to in your life. That is not going to happen on a football field for someone who can’t control his rage in a personal relationship. That’s not going to happen in an atmosphere where you are driven to putting your hands on one of your coaches on the sidelines in front of thousands of people in a stadium, and millions more on television.

A second chance away from football may give Hardy a real chance, but it doesn’t help Jones.

Of course, Jones doesn’t exist without the endorsement of the fans. It may be tougher than ever for sports fans to pledge their allegiance to their teams when faced with the acceptance of such individuals as Hardy — and they do accept it when they buy their team’s tickets and their merchandise and cover up their own embarrassment. They do it when their cheer on Sundays for Hardy when he sacks the opposing quarterback, maybe with their daughters and wives looking on.

Maybe that will be a teaching moment about “second chances.”

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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