The NFL and Kansas City Chiefs look incompetent in the wake of Kareem Hunt’s ugly incident, something that must be addressed moving forward.
Kareem Hunt is unemployed. The NFL is taking heat. The Kansas City Chiefs are wiping a considerable amount of egg off their collective face.
These three facts are a direct result of Hunt assaulting a 19-year-old woman at The Metropolitan at the 9 in Cleveland in February. Hunt, as seen in a video obtained by TMZ, shoved the woman, then shoved a man who fell into the woman and knocked her over, and finally returned to kick her while she lay defenseless on the ground. No charges were filed by the Cleveland Police Department.
The NFL subsequently placed Hunt on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, before the Chiefs ended up releasing him from their roster on Friday night. Both the NFL and the Chiefs maintain that neither of them saw the video before it was made public despite requests to both the hotel and the Cleveland police. In addition, messages to the woman went unanswered.
Those facts, while informing, don’t defend what is becoming a problematic and inconsistent policy on domestic violence. The NFL must increase its ability to legally obtain any evidence involving one of its employees. While Hunt’s act is disgusting, the narrative for both him and the league would be much different if it had been dealt with prudently. Instead, the optics present that the NFL doesn’t care about violence against women, because TMZ bought a video the league failed to acquire. It’s not the first time this has happened, as the Ray Rice video was spoken of but not seen until TMZ released it in similar fashion.
Many have assumed that the NFL should take whatever means necessary to get videotapes in the aftermath of incidents like the ones involving Hunt and Rice. The NFL has been hesitant to go that far because it would put the employees of hotels and other entities in difficult circumstances. In addition, the idea of paying for information to investigate players (who are, in many ways, the NFL’s partners) would likely be met with resistance by the NFL Players Association.
The result has been a seemingly inconsistent series of punishments, ranging from the bungled handling of cases such as Rice and former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown to the seemingly extensive investigation and endless legal wrangling of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
At the same time, it’s important for both the NFL and the NFLPA to have an effective policy that protects the game and the players while also giving players a way of rehabilitating themselves in such situations. Like Rice, there’s a strong chance that Hunt may never play again because of how this situation was handled.
Then there are the Chiefs. The organization has long talked about character being a key feature of the team’s identity, but that has been more talk than action. Since the final days of original owner Lamar Hunt’s tenure with the team (he died in 2006) and when his son Clark took over, Kansas City has had one ugly incident after the next.
Former All-Pro running back Larry Johnson was arrested in 2003 for waving a gun at his girlfriend during a dispute. Two years later, Johnson was taken into custody when he allegedly shoved a woman to the ground. Despite that, Clark Hunt had no problem doling out a six-year extension worth a total of $43.2 million to Johnson in 2007. A year later Johnson was arrested again for pushing another woman, and later that year spit a drink into a third woman’s face.
The Chiefs never suspended him for any of these actions.
In December 2012, inside linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his child. Hours later, Belcher drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of team officials.
The following day, the Chiefs hosted the Carolina Panthers. Instead of honoring the slain Perkins, a cousin-in-law of Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles, the team held a moment of silence for “all victims of domestic violence.”
Less than four years later, Hunt’s franchise selected Tyreek Hill in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, a man who pled guilty to punching and strangling his pregnant girlfriend. Hill, who has undergone extensive counseling and not had an issue since coming to Kansas City, was a lightning rod of controversy upon his arrival.
The same day as drafting Hill, former general manager John Dorsey stated the following:
“I just want everybody to understand that we have done our due diligence with regards to full vetting each one of our draft-class members. We would never put anybody in this community in harm’s way.”
Now, in the wake of Kareem Hunt’s incident, the Chiefs once again find themselves being everything they swear they aren’t. They made the correct move by releasing Hunt, who may never play a down again, after seeing the video of his brutality. That doesn’t excuse their long-standing history of coming up short in the most basic of ways.
The NFL looks incompetent, mostly because it didn’t give itself enough avenues to investigate pertinent, pressing problems.
As for the Chiefs, while they finally made the correct move after more than a decade of gross ambivalence when it comes to their players attacking women, there is one immutable fact.
They are nobody’s hero.