For the second time in one week, an NFL team has cut ties with a player due to domestic violence. And, for the second time in one week, the incident tells us more about the league’s failure to take domestic violence seriously than anything else.
On Friday afternoon, TMZ released a video of Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in a hotel. By the time the clock struck Saturday, the NFL had placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list, and the Chiefs had cut their star player.
But don’t let this swift action fool you into thinking the NFL and the Chiefs are finally taking violence against women seriously. The incident occurred back in February, and the NFL has been investigating it since then. The Chiefs, too, have looked into it over the past nine months, and yet they decided to keep Hunt on the team until Friday night. It was only after the video of the violence became public that the league and the Chiefs stepped up.
The video pretty much confirms the details of the incident that were reported back in February — Hunt kicked the woman out of his room, she yelled racial slurs at him and instigates a fight with his friends, which spills out into the hallway and ends up with Hunt shoving and kicking the woman, causing abrasions on her knee and hand, and a scratch on her chest.
This was a case where the woman was not behaving appropriately, and she was not someone that Hunt was in an ongoing relationship with. Perhaps those details made the NFL and the Chiefs more inclined to give Hunt the benefit of the doubt. However, as former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith pointed out on Twitter, Hunt still clearly assaulted a woman. That’s ultimately on him, and it is against the NFL personal conduct policy.
These dudes need to quit hitting women. I mean wtf is really going on. It’s really fucking unacceptable.
— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) December 1, 2018
At the end of the day. Fellas keep your hands to yourself. If you feel like you have to hit her it ain’t worth it.
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) December 1, 2018
In their statement announcing the release, the Chiefs said that they had internal discussions with Hunt after the incident in February, but that it was clear based on the video that “Kareem was not truthful in those discussions.”
Meanwhile, the NFL said in a statement that the video was “new information” that had not previously been uncovered in its nearly year-long investigation.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the exact same thing that happened with Ray Rice back in 2014. Remember, the NFL was supposed to learn its lesson after Rice. As we’ve now seen twice this week alone, the league hasn’t learned a thing. Last Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers released Reuben Foster after he was arrested for domestic violence; it was his second time being arrested for domestic violence against the same woman. Despite a “zero tolerance” policy for violence against women, the 49ers stuck with Foster the first time.
Only time will tell if this is Hunt’s last turn in the NFL. He is an incredibly talented running back and is only 23 years old. Considering that Foster has already been signed by the Washington NFL team, Hunt might not be out of the league for long.
But what is even more concerning is that the NFL keeps getting it wrong when it comes to domestic violence, time and time again. How did they not know about the tape? Many people are asking that question in the aftermath of Hunt’s release.
“What we do know is the NFL utilizes a private army full of ex-cops, FBI agents and former investigators. The league could find a tick on Vladimir Putin’s dog’s ass while the dog was in Moscow and it was in New York,” Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote. “And yet TMZ could get this tape but a billion-dollar league couldn’t?”
We all asked these same questions back in 2014, when TMZ released the Rice video. Four years later, there are no good answers.