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Cowboys can only hope Greg Hardy suspension is reduced

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Hardy suspension expected to be appealed

Mark Schlereth and Jeff Saturday react to the news that the NFL has suspended Cowboys DE Greg Hardy 10 games and the NFLPA's expected appeal of the ruling.

IRVING, Texas -- Just because the NFL announced a 10-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy doesn’t mean the full suspension will stand up to the impending appeal or potential court ruling.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement that the team was anticipating a suspension and “we respect the commissioner’s ruling. Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources -- work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome.”

Despite Jones’ statement, there has to be some surprise at the length of the suspension. Under the new personal conduct policy, a player’s first offense is a six-game suspension. The old policy was a two-game suspension.

Even though Hardy has not been penalized legally for the domestic violence case from the past spring, the NFL made him an example of their new, "get tough" stance after the league badly handled the Ray Rice episode last year.

If the suspension sticks, Hardy will miss 25 games over two seasons. He played one game last year for the Carolina Panthers, was inactive for another and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list for the final 14.

Had the Cowboys known Hardy would be available for just six games, would they still have entered into his one-year deal, even if the contract is mostly pay-as-you-go?

The Cowboys were more than willing to stick out their chests in the one-year deal they reached with Hardy. They gave him no guaranteed money. His base salary is just $750,000. He could earn $1.311 million through a workout bonus and another $1.8 million in incentives.

The real money comes in the per-game roster bonuses totaling $9.5 million.

If Hardy played, he would get paid.

Under the suspension, Hardy can now make $3.468 million in roster bonuses for the six games. His base salary would be roughly $264,700. He would have to be otherworldly to cash in on the incentives. The low benchmark is $500,000 for eight sacks. He can earn $1 million for 10 sacks, $1.4 million for 12 sacks and $1.8 million for 14 or more sacks.

If he could get eight sacks in six games, the Cowboys would be ecstatic to pay him an extra $500,000.

But again, the chance of the suspension's being upheld is slim. Even if the appeal is denied, Hardy could take the case to court. Adrian Peterson won a court case not too long ago over the NFL's penalizing him under a personal conduct policy that was not in place when the incidents involving his children occurred.

In his letter to Hardy, Goodell said the actions were so egregious that a 10-game suspension was allowable under the former or current policy. That will be handled in the appeal or by the courts.

The Cowboys have to be bystanders in this. They need to respect Goodell’s ruling while also trying to support their player.

In the end, they hope to get more than just six games from Hardy in 2015, even if they can’t openly root for that to happen.