You can Vote on Whether to Hire this Asshole
We don’t usually cover sports here at the Blacksite, but this story hits enough of our buttons to warrant some words.
The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles are a very bad arena football team that plays at the Maverik Center in West Valley. They haven’t been around long, but they’ve already gotten a lot of attention. That’s primarily thanks to the gimmick around which the team is built: the fans make the decisions. All of them.
We’ve been to a Screaming Eagles game, and it’s a pretty unique experience. You’re given a wifi password and the link to an App when you come in the door. During the game, you can vote on which play the team should run. Whichever play the crowd chooses, the team has to do. (Yep, there’s a lot of ill-advised passing.)
This has resulted in some pretty funny situations. For example, in the game we attended, the crowd chose to go for two near the end of the game, when it made no mathematical sense to do so. The players themselves were holding up their index fingers to signal that kicking an extra point was the right call in that situation. Ignoring their pleas, the fans voted to very pointlessly run for two points, a decision which helped cost them the game. Imagine the pure Sisyphean frustration of that moment on the field. But hey, it was funny.
We’re not the only ones who think so. Norm MacDonald loved this gimmick so much, he flew out to the first game and even joined the broadcast team to provide some live commentary:
But this admittedly fun idea took a dark turn today, when fans were asked to make a less benign decision. This time, fans are not just picking the play, they’re picking the player. And the hiring decision they’re being asked to weigh in on is controversial to say the least.
Have you ever wondered how much of a violent asshole you have to be to get kicked out of the NFL? The answer to that question is Greg Hardy.
Greg Hardy, like many NFL players you’ve probably heard of, was accused of horrible domestic violence against his then girlfriend. Unlike most NFL players, he was actually convicted. A judge heard 11 hours of testimony in the case, and ultimately concluded:
The court is entirely convinced Hardy is guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats.
That’s putting it mildly. Hardy’s victim said he threw her into a bathtub, tossed her onto a futon covered in assault rifles (!), and choked her until she told him to just kill her so she could end the abuse.
But that still wasn’t enough to get Hardy removed from the NFL. At first, they only suspended him. Thanks to a quirk of the legal system in Hardy’s state, he could appeal the initial finding of guilty by the judge and get a new trial by jury. In the meantime, he reached a civil settlement with the victim, she refused to testify at the jury trial, and the case was dropped. So the NFL fell back on the old “no conviction, no big deal” line of reasoning.
Until Deadspin posted this article detailing the horrible abuse and the extensive evidence supporting it. Even the NFL couldn’t look past photos like this:
So finally, almost miraculously, a violent monster was actually fired from the NFL. That was two years ago. Where is Greg Hardy today? Well, apparently he’d like to be in Salt Lake City, running the plays you’ve called for the Screaming Eagles.
Here’s how the Screaming Eagles describe this turn of events:
He has expressed a strong desire to join the Screaming Eagles as a way for him to showcase his football skills and prove worthy of another chance. As a football player, Hardy is a physically gifted pass-rusher who could make an immediate impact on our defensive line. As an off-the-field member of the community, there are past allegations and arrests that he carries.
The closest thing this fan-managed team has to a coach added “Greg is human and made some mistakes in his life and is paying for those mistakes.”
“Mistake” is a funny word here because we’ve never heard of anyone accidentally strangling a person until they ask to die. Seems more like a conscious choice.
Anyway, true to their word, the Screaming Eagles are asking fans to vote on this decision, which you can do here. Depressingly, 61% of fans are currently in favor of paying this person money to move to our state.
This is just more evidence that populist ideas often lead to horrifying results. Somehow, it all feels familiar.