Greg Hardy was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round of the 2010 draft after playing his college ball at Ole Miss. In college, Greg was a dominant pass rusher until he was sidelined by injuries, which is why he was drafted in the sixth round. Hardy has always had the talent of an early-round draft choice and he proved that much last season, tallying 11 sacks. After struggling to put it all together his first two years, Hardy blossomed in his third season as a pro. His vast improvement can be attributed to his hard work and his new-found counter-ego, "The Kraken".
So during the vast majority of the NFL season, Greg Hardy is not Greg Hardy; he is a slightly-crazed, 290 lb. monster living in the real world(as well as Matt Ryan's worst nightmares) just waiting to be unleashed on Sundays. And when game days arrive, the Kraken paints his face, wears colored contacts, and tapes the words "The Kraken" over where his name usually appears on the back of his jersey (this is removed before kickoff but how cool is that?)."The Kraken is a giant monster that just demolishes everything that moves," Hardy told the Charlotte Observer last year. "On Wednesday or Thursday, I go down in my subconscious. I find him, and I unlock the cage. About Saturday he usually comes out. Then he's always out on Sunday. I don't control him then. What he does when I'm not there, I don't know."
Hardy has gradually become one of my favorite NFL players. I am an avid Panthers fan so I have watched him since he first came into the league. I remember watching the first game of his rookie season.The Panthers are punting and I glance to the outside of the punt coverage team and there is Greg Hardy, all 6'4 290 lbs, playing gunner. That's the moment I became enthralled with the Kraken. And then there is this past season's hit on Carson Palmer that knocked Carson out of the game with broken ribs.
But what has really made me love the guy is his-field personality. He is a quote machine because he always says exactly what he is thinking, a rare feat in today's PC world. He also has made a huge effort to connect with fans this offseason by engaging them on Twitter, Reddit, CatScratchReader, and his own video blog (the links take you to the Kraken's interactions w/ fans). Many fans have taken notice and Hardy is quickly becoming a fan favorite among the Panthers faithful. Lets take a look at some of the Kraken's best moments over the years.
I chalLange @WHOISJPP or Julius peppers to a game of 1 on 1 loser declines their probowl invite since I don't have one #don'tbescaredHaha who wouldn't love to see this? Hardy straight calls Peppers out. What makes it even better is Peppers is an ex-Panther whom Hardy is helping to replace (if you are a Panthers fan you understand the awesomeness of this tweet). Also, both are great athletes; Peppers played some ball at UNC and the Kraken has a series of dunks on YouTube (take notice of his clothes and where this takes place)
— GQ (@ItsGHardy) January 2, 2013
I love this app lmao so bored http://t.co/XvgAzhStHq pic.twitter.com/1fs7M0HmeXThis is a great example of Hardy's humor and all-around awesomeness as a person. I also implore the Panthers to put this picture, this picture, this picture and this picture into their game day media guides. This would definitely be a big hit.
— GQ (@ItsGHardy) April 3, 2013
And lastly, I leave you with my favorite Kraken moment: "Get the F*** off our field". In week 4 of last year's NFL season, the Falcons made a miraculous comeback to beat the Panthers thanks to a 50-yard pass from their own goal line in the final minute of the game (special thanks to Haruki Nakamura aka you are the worst). After the game was over, Matt Ryan yelled "Get the F*** off our field!" to the opposing Panthers team. Well, the Kraken took notice. Fast forward to week 15 and the Falcons are playing the Panthers at home. After coming away with a victory, Hardy kindly returns Ryan's favor by yelling "Get the f*** off our field". And luckily, we have video documentation:
“I told him politely to remove himself from our facility because it was time to go, and he invited me to come watch him in January,” Hardy said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “It was a nice conversation. I really didn't know who he was. He was so small and weird-shaped, I was trying to figure out what he did,” Hardy said. “I found out when I looked online that he was a kicker. I was a little shocked.”There is so much I could say in response to this, but it really speaks for itself. These are just a few examples why The Kraken has become one of my favorite players. I encourage you to check out the links I have posted and follow him on twitter; he is always entertaining and has a ton of respect for his fans.