Greg Hardy 'hates' being distraction

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Greg Hardy "hates" that his legal situation has been a distraction for the Carolina Panthers, but that was the only comment the Pro Bowl defensive end made Sunday regarding his May arrest.

"I hate that I have distracted my team," Hardy said, the first time he has spoken to the media since being arrested and subsequently found guilty for assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend in May. "Other than that I can't answer that question."

Hardy was arrested on May 13 after an incident at his Charlotte, North Carolina, apartment involving Nicole Holder, with whom he began a relationship six months prior. He was found guilty by a Mecklenburg County judge on both counts on July 15 and sentenced to 18 months probation and 60 days in jail, the latter suspended.

Hardy's attorney immediately appealed the decision and asked for a jury trial, which won't happen until after the season. Because the case remains in the court, a Carolina spokesperson said prior to Sunday's interview that Hardy could not answer any questions related to the case.

Hardy wouldn't even address if the last few months have been difficult on him.

"I don't answer questions like that, man," he said.

Asked if being on the field makes it easier, Hardy said, "Can't answer that question, man."

Asked if he has apologized to the team for being a distraction, he said, "I can't answer that question. It's a team thing."

Hardy, who will be a free agent after this season, did say he hoped to remain with the team that selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.

"Play a good season, and hopefully when you talk to Mr. Gettleman you can convince him to keep me," Hardy said of general manager Dave Gettleman. "I love this place. It's a great atmosphere. I love the ownership, I love my teammates. I've had a great five years here, so it's where I'm at."

Gettleman said last week that Hardy's situation was "concerning and disappointing." He would not speculate on whether the Panthers would attempt to sign Hardy long-term after the court case has been completed.

"I don't mean to make light of it," Gettleman said. "Let's take one step at a time."

Gettleman also said the team would not discipline Hardy until the NFL took action under the league's code of conduct policy. He said the league apparently will not do anything until the legal process has played out.

A league spokesman told ESPN.com it was continuing to monitor the situation.

The Panthers made Hardy their franchise player after he led the team in sacks (15) last season, guaranteeing him $13.1 million in 2014.

Hardy, who often refers to himself by his alter persona -- "The Kraken" -- was not nearly as playful as he typically is with the media. But he did say the goal of 50 sacks that he set last season, more than twice the NFL single-season record, remained in play.

"I like that number still," Hardy said. "I feel it was a good, solid, whole number. I'm going to shoot for it again. I want to say this time I'm shooting for it, so everybody knows. I didn't say I was going to get 50, but I am going to shoot for 50."

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