Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers and Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite have one thing in common - they are both disconnected from reality when it comes to football.
Uncle Rico thinks he can throw a football over a mountain and his high school team could have won state decades ago if the coach just would have put him in as quarterback.
Greg Hardy thinks the Panthers are better than the Atlanta Falcons.
First off, I am a Greg Hardy fan. I appreciate his confidence and desire to win. As I have previously written, Hardy is breaking out in Year 3 of his NFL career and is having a great season in the midst of a depressing year as a whole for the Panthers.
But in reality there is nothing objective to back up Hardy's claim that Carolina is better than Atlanta.
Why Greg Hardy is Crazy
Going back to 2009 the Panthers are 1-6 in their last seven games against the Falcons. In the process the Falcons have outscored the Panthers 201-136.
Head-to-head the Falcons have been dominating the Panthers in recent years.
As members of the NFC South Carolina and Atlanta play roughly the same schedule each season, though there is a bit of variation due to strength of schedule. But in the end it is pretty apples-to-apples to see how the Panthers and Falcons have fared in their recent NFC South schedules.
Carolina has gone 9-19 (.321) over the past two years under the Ron Rivera and Cam Newton regime. Atlanta has gone 21-7 (.750) in the same period. Not only has Atlanta been better head-to-head against the Panthers, they have also been much better overall.
Why Greg Hardy is a Genius
Even though Greg Hardy's comment about the Panthers being better than the Falcons is simply not accurate, I still give him credit for making the statement.
At 3-9 the Panthers' season is over and some teams start quitting at this point in the year. Hardy's comments were designed to keep the Panthers motivated and focused as they play out four relatively meaningless games to end the year.
Lost in Hardy's comment is this quote about Atlanta, "I'm trying to mess up their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach, mad about life, a couple of depression issues, all types of things."
Hardy's comments seem to reveal a deep, abiding, personal dislike for the Falcons, which is exactly how players should feel toward their divisional rivals.
Personally, I applaud Hardy for wanting to kick in the teeth of his NFC South competition. In an era when players mainly care about money, stats, money, celebrity, money, sharing their agents, and more money, it's actually refreshing to see a player motivated by some good old-fashion contempt for his opponent.
While the substance of Greg Hardy's view about the Panthers being better than the Falcons is in the Uncle Rico realm of crazy, there is some competitive genius in the purpose for making the statement.
Greg Hardy dislikes the Atlanta Falcons and wants to destroy them, which is great to see from a player on a floundering team preparing for a relatively meaningless game.
With Greg Hardy's desire and competitiveness, maybe even Uncle Rico could have won state a long, long time ago.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Greg Hardy