This past Friday a video from February came out of Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in what appears to be a hotel hallway. The NFL immediately put Hunt on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, meaning he is not allowed to play in any games until a further investigation is completed. The Chiefs cut Hunt later in the day, saying they had asked Hunt about the incident when it first happened and he denied it happened.
This is yet another case of the NFL turning a blind eye to any and all immoral actions perpetrated by its players until it is forced into action. The multi-billion dollar business that is the NFL needs to stop worrying about getting the extra couple million dollars from these players and start being more strict about its personal conduct rules for players.
This is just one more in the line of accusations that are ignored and treated with artificial slaps on the wrist until someone leaks a video of the incident. Just a few days before this Hunt debacle, linebacker Reuben Foster was released from the San Francisco 49ers when he was arrested on domestic violence charges (the second domestic violence charge against Foster and his third arrest of the year) and just three days later the Washington Redskins signed him.
If videos of any Foster incidents come out, I’m sure the Redskins will cut him and try to act like they had no idea, but that act has run out of steam and it is time for the League as a whole to face the truth.
Ray Rice’s case was one of the most publicized of these cases the NFL has dealt with inappropriately. In February 2014, Rice was arrested on charges of assault of his then girlfriend. Video of Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator was soon made public, and in March, Rice was indicted. When the NFL finished its investigation, all it gave Rice was a measly two-game suspension.
Greg Hardy was convicted of assault of his ex-girlfriend in May of 2014, but when he requested a trial by jury, the ex-girlfriend did not show up, so the case was dismissed. The NFL investigation found enough evidence to give Hardy a 10-game suspension, but he appealed it and got it reduced to just four games. The Dallas Cowboys signed Hardy amid all this drama, and he played all 12 games he was eligible for with the team.
More recently, Ezekiel Elliott was accused of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend on five occasions in 2016. The NFL conducted its investigation and suspended Elliott for six games, and that suspension was upheld by an arbitrator when Elliott appealed. The NFL Players Association then filed an injunction that was granted by a federal judge, putting a hold on the suspension until the case was settled.
Even when the court reinstated the suspension, Elliott got a temporary restraining order, which allowed him to play while he filed another injunction, but that was denied. The NFL Players Association then filed an emergency injunction which was accepted and granted Elliott yet another stay on his suspension. Less than a week after that injunction, Elliott’s suspension was reinstated and this time, Elliott finally served the suspension.
All of these previous cases, combined with the most recent cases of Foster and Hunt, show that the NFL still does not know how to handle these situations. All they seem concerned with is giving a fake display of concern, but in the end they do not really care about all the criminal charges of their players as long as they are playing at a high enough level to entertain the fans.
Both the NFL as a league and the teams are to blame in this situation. The teams who sign players with multiple counts of domestic violence are just announcing to the world that they care about winning more than anything. They show a blatant disregard of the victims of these cases. The League has also not come down hard enough on these occurrences, revealing that they are more concerned with the money top players bring in than the conduct of those said players.
The only thing that causes teams and players to crack down is when videos of the occurrences come out, because at that point there is no running away for the teams or the League. In the case of Ray Rice, he never played again, even after he said he would donate his entire salary to domestic violence prevention organizations if a team did sign him. This may be the same case with Hunt, but knowing his electrifying talent, and the lack of importance that these cases receive, I would not be shocked to see him sign with another team in a couple weeks when the talk of this incident settles down.