Defensive end Greg Hardy, who remains unsigned in free agency, denied Monday during a one-on-one interview with ESPN's Adam Schefter that he has ever hit a woman.
Hardy was discussing the 2014 incident involving former girlfriend Nicole Holder in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was a member of the Carolina Panthers, and denied he had ever hit her.
"I've never put my hand on any woman," Hardy said.
"In my whole entire life, no sir," he said, adding that he was raised never to hit a woman and that violence against his siblings -- brother or sister -- wasn't tolerated.
After his comments were aired on ESPN, Hardy was called out by former Panthers teammate Steve Smith Sr. on Twitter. The receiver, now with theBaltimore Ravens, tweeted an excerpt of Hardy's interview and said he is anadvocate against domestic violence. In 2014, he talked about the abusive relationships his mother was in when he was a child.
Hardy, 27, was accused by Holder of throwing her against a bathroom wall, throwing her on a bed covered with assault rifles, choking her and threatening her life during an altercation at his apartment.
Schefter pointed out to Hardy that pictures of Holder following the incident showedher with multiple bruises all over her body.
"Pictures are pictures, and they can be made to look like whatever they want to," he said. "I didn't say I didn't do anything wrong. That situation occurred and that situation was handled, but as a man you can't avoid situations that aren't your fault or are your fault," he said.
He was convicted on charges of domestic violence in 2014 in a bench trial by judge. He appealed, seeking a jury trial, but the case was thrown out in February 2015 when Holder stopped cooperating with authorities.Hardy filed a petition last year in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to have his domestic violence charges expunged from his record.
On Monday, Hardy called his conviction in the bench trial a "flimsy situation" and "a product of miscommunication."
"Saying I did nothing wrong is a stretch, but saying I'm innocent is correct, sir," he said.
Hardy acknowledged that the "backlash" over the incident with Holder has contributed to his remaining unsigned this offseason.
Last year, the league issued Hardy a 10-game suspension for multiple violations of the personal conduct policy in connection with the incident with Holder, but that suspension was reduced to four games on appeal.
He played for the Dallas Cowboys last season on a one-year deal after five seasons with the Panthers. He has 40 career sacks, six coming last season for the Cowboys.