The decision to sign a player with a seriously checkered off-the-field record can be a stressful one for any franchise.
But the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles are no ordinary franchise. And that’s what led to a crazy 24 hours in which the Indoor Football League team came ever so close to signing ex-Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy.
The Screaming Eagles, as we’ve written, allow their fans to vote on everything related to the franchise. And according to team president Thom Carter, the franchise was sticking to that even in a controversial situation.
Carter told For The Win on Thursday afternoon that Hardy’s representatives had some friends in Salt Lake’s ownership group and reached out two weeks ago, with the defensive end hoping to prove he could still play and was contrite. Hardy was informed that fans had their say in the organization and Carter said he was okay with that.
“We said this is part of who we are, we have to let the fans vote on this,” Carter said. “There was a lot of conversation around this. We got to the point where we were founded on the principal of having those conversations in the open and letting fans have those conversations. While we talked through those exact principals, it was, how do we continually pull back this curtain and let fans to have the same conversations that take place in every conference room and boardroom at an NBA and NFL level?”
The poll went up on Wednesday morning, and Carter noted local and national stories hit later in the day and at night as votes came in. With around four hours to go, the needle was decidedly pointing toward “yes,” until about 3:30 p.m. local time, when a local radio station posted a story. That’s when the votes swung the other way – all voters needed was a valid email address to register on the team’s site – and eventually, the Hardy signing was rejected with just 50.1 percent of voters saying “no.”
It’s a decidedly more serious turn for a franchise that might have been seen as a quirky experiment. So…