O'Connor: Cowboys should suspend Greg Hardy, not enable him

— -- Jerry Jones hired Greg Hardy for a very simple reason. Hardy has extreme talent, and on any given Sunday, extreme talent prevails in the NFL.

Jones is not in the business of rehabilitation. He merely wants to make sure he doesn't go another 20 years without winning a Super Bowl.

Jones signed Hardy to the  Dallas Cowboys to hit the other guy's quarterback, and hit him hard, even though the former Carolina Panther had been suspended by the league after he was accused of strangling and threatening to kill a woman who he threw onto a futon covered with loaded guns.

"Our organization understands the very serious nature of domestic violence in our society and in our league," Jones said at the time. "We know that Greg has a firm understanding of those issues as well."

As it turned out, Hardy had no such firm understanding that women should not be treated as possessions or playthings. Upon reinstatement, before facing the  New England Patriots, Hardy told reporters that he couldn't wait to see Tom Brady's supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, that he hoped she brought her sister and friends to the game, and that he votes for Pro Bowl candidates based on the appearance of their significant others.

Though Jones made a fool of himself by confirming to SI.com that Brady's wife is, you know, really, really hot, coach Jason Garrett understood that comments objectifying women represented a problem for a man convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend (the charges were later dismissed when the accuser declined to appear in court for the appeal). He reprimanded Hardy and told the news media: "That's not how we want to operate as an organization." Garrett assured everyone Hardy got the message, that he was to make headlines only with his helmet and pads.

Except that during Sunday's 27-20 loss to the  New York Giants, Hardy suddenly decided he was the bull and the Dallas sideline was his china shop. He was caught on footage aired by NBC confronting his own special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia, after former Cowboy  Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for the winning touchdown. Hardy slapped hard at Bisaccia's clipboard and gestured angrily in the coach's face before Bisaccia shoved him away with two hands. A camera later showed Hardy engaged in a shouting match with the injured  Dez Bryant, who appeared to be the cooler of the two heads by a country mile.

If Dez Bryant is your peacemaker, Dallas, we have a problem.

But the postgame commentary out of the losers' locker room turned out to be more alarming than the conduct itself. Not only did Jones and Garrett refuse to criticize Hardy, or threaten to fire him for insubordination and conduct unbecoming a pro, they actually encouraged him to act that way again.

Jones: "He's, of course, one of the real leaders on this team, and he earns it. He earns it with the respect from all his teammates. That's the kind of thing that inspires a football team. ... I don't have any issue with him being involved in motivating or pushing in any part of the football team, because he plays and walks the walk."

Garrett: "To be a good football player and a good football team, you have to have passion and put it all out there. ... It was coming off the football field. That happens; you encourage guys, you try to get guys excited. You try to get guys ready for the next challenge. I believe from my vantage point, that's what he was doing."

Good heavens. Now you know why Hardy felt emboldened to say what he said about Bundchen and to ignore Garrett's rebuke and stated guidelines by provoking a physical confrontation with an assistant coach. The guy knows who he is working for. He knows the Cowboys are willing to put up with almost anything to make the losing go away.

On cue Sunday night, for the sake of protecting the "family," just about everyone on the Dallas side was swearing Hardy did nothing wrong. He was merely a passionate football player trying to sharpen his team's competitive edge, and hey, sometimes boys will be boys and men will be men. To add to the folly of it all, Hardy staged a predictably embarrassing performance at his locker by repeatedly cutting off reporters in mid-question with the auto response: "No comment. Any other questions?"

There's nothing left to ask. If the Cowboys have any sense of right and wrong here, they will suspend Hardy for the Seattle game and warn him that his next eruption will lead to immediate termination. But the safe bet says the Cowboys would prefer Hardy take out his anger on  Russell Wilson and then hope for the best.

They're not going to get the best, of course. Greg Hardy is more likely to destroy the season than  Tony Romo is to return in time to save it.

Perhaps that's the most appropriate ending. Perhaps that's exactly what Jerry Jones, enabler in chief, has coming to him.