Sad news today has filled the NFL world as the body of former Buffalo Bills wide receiver James Hardy was found in a river in Indiana.
According to ESPN, the body of a man was found in the Maumee River in Indiana on Wednesday, but he was not identified at first. By Thursday, the Allen County Coroner’s Office was able to identify the body, and it was found to be that of 31-year-old James Hardy.
As of this writing, the cause of Hardy’s death has not yet been determined, but there is an ongoing investigation. WANE reported that Hardy’s family did report him as missing back on May 30, but it is not known for long he had been gone.
Multiple emergency service crews, including police and fire, were called to the Maumee River on Wednesday night. There were reports of a possible body in the water near the Hosey Dam which needed to be investigated.
Hardy’s body was originally found by an employee of the City’s water filtration plant who was simply going on his regular rounds. He was walking along the catwalk, spotted the body, and called the police. It wasn’t until the next day that the body was found to be that of the former Buffalo Bills receiver.
Our support is with the Hardy family after the passing of former Bills WR James Hardy. pic.twitter.com/4ZgLDUwyPA
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) June 8, 2017
The Bills did send out a message on Twitter to offer their condolences to the entire Hardy family regarding their loss.
During his short NFL career, Hardy played two seasons with the Bills after being drafted by them in 2008 with the 41st overall pick. After two seasons in Buffalo, he spent one with the Baltimore Ravens before spending some time with the Arizona Rattlers and Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League.
Hardy finished his NFL career with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions. While his time in the pros may not have shown huge numbers, there is a very good reason he was sought after by the Bills in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
As a redshirt freshman at the University of Indiana, James Hardy racked up 893 yards and 10 touchdowns on 61 receptions. His fantastic play earned him the honor of being named a Freshman All-America that season.
His sophomore season was even better as he had 51 receptions for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns which named him to the All-Big Ten second team. His twenty career receiving touchdowns in his first two seasons tied him with former NFL star Ernie Jones for second in the school’s all-time record book.
It was his third and final season at Indiana that earned him the attention of a lot of NFL teams, though. As a junior, James Hardy amassed an incredible 1,075 yards and 16 touchdowns on 74 receptions. After that season, he had become Indiana’s all-time receiving leader in touchdowns, yards, and receptions.
While it may be hard to think he could do much more, Hardy also played on Indiana’s basketball team for two of his years in college. After his junior season, he felt it was time to head to the NFL.
In 2014, things took an odd turn as TMZ Sports reported that James Hardy was arrested after attacking three police officers. At trial, the judge ruled he was not mentally competent to stand trial, and he was committed to a state mental institution for six months.
The life of James Hardy is one that included a lot of big things, including an amazing college football career and time spent in the NFL. His professional career didn’t last very long, but he had his shot and took every chance with graciousness and appreciation. At just 31 years of age, there was still so much more life for him to live, and it is just tragic that he died so young, and he had to be found in the manner in which he was.
[Featured Image by Doug Benc/Getty Images]