In November, during his ongoing "Make Ray Rice Great Again" (or Just Tolerable Enough) public-relations campaign, the former Ravens running back said he hoped Greg Hardy would come to realize the error of his ways, just as Rice had before him.
Hardy, now a free-agent defensive end, allegedly assaulted Nicole Holder in May 2014, throwing his then-girlfriend onto a couch filled with guns, and threatening her.
A North Carolina judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting a female and communicating threats, but on appeal, the case was thrown out when Holder did not appear for a hearing. Prosecutors believe Holder reached a civil settlement with Hardy before the court date, and his domestic-violence charges have since been expunged.
Rice, who has called his own assault episode "the most horrible decision I've ever could have made," felt last season that maybe he could reach Hardy.
Asked why he got another chance in the NFL — the Cowboys signed him to a one-year deal in March 2015 after the Carolina Panthers decided against a contract extension — while Rice has not, Hardy said the answer was simple.
"I don't want to compare situations," Hardy said, "but I would say that's the story of an innocent man and a guilty man."
He's half-right. Rice is guilty. He has said as much. The ugly glimpses of one night in Atlantic City, N.J., prove as much. The NFL's cold-shoulder treatment is as damning an indictment as anything else.
An innocent man, however, Hardy appears not. He was, after all, intially convicted before his appeal for a jury trial fell apart. He acknowledged in the ESPN interview that a "situation" with Holder did occur, and that "saying that I did nothing wrong is a stretch."
"That's a conversation for lawyers," he said. "Pictures are pictures and they can be made to look like whatever they want to."
If only Hardy could hear just how much he sounds like Rice during Rice's now-infamous May 2014 news conference — before he was suspended, before the release of the video, before his NFL exile.
Hardy: "I still suffer repercussions from it, and I fight it on the day to day dealing with the people and family and being a leper of sort. But at the same time, as a man, you have to take responsibility for every action."
Rice: "I know many of my supporters, sponsors who have acted as so to not want to be in partnership with me — that's my fault. That's my fault. I take full responsibility for that. One thing that I do know is that I am working every day to be a better father, a better husband and just a better role model."
Hardy: "It hurts me and my family when people take me like that, as a criminal and a monster, when I just want to set records and I want to chase the dream and be a part of a team. I want people to know that I want to be a part of a championship team. I want to be a part of a big thing."
Rice: "I just wanted to look at you all in the room, you who have covered me for the last seven years — six going on seven years — and for everybody here, I want you to know that I'm still the Ray Rice that you know or used to know or [have] grown to love. I'm still the same guy."
We now know that wasn't the case, thanks to a casino's elevator camera.