Although it took until TMZ released a video that NFL running back and former Kansas City Chief Kareem Hunt struck, pushed and kicked a woman in a hotel hallway for the truth to come out, the manner in which the NFL attempted to handle the incident is just as concerning as the incident itself. While domestic violence of all forms should be immediately condemned to the greatest degree, the fact that another football player was accused illustrates the alarming point that the League and its teams value business over doing what is morally right.
It is worth reiterating that Hunt’s actions were extremely deplorable no matter what events preceded the altercation, and he deserves whatever punishment the NFL sends his way. Despite this, it is imperative to assess the NFL’s investigation into the matter.
The NFL’s primary defense is that the League somehow did not have access to the video. Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL, actually went as far as to say that the NFL did its due diligence in seeking to obtain the hotel video from Cleveland authorities.
“We had multiple verbal conversations with Cleveland police officers and requested surveillance video immediately upon learning of the incident in February,” McCarthy said. “In addition, NFL representatives also made requests for surveillance video to the hotel property.”
While the video itself was disturbing, the NFL’s inability to receive access to it raises some serious questions. How is it possible that a multibillion dollar association could not get its hands on such a critical tape that featured a star player assaulting a woman repeatedly? How was a consumer-heavy media company like TMZ able to obtain the footage, but the NFL was somehow unable to?
The simple answer to this question, one which I coldheartedly believe, is that the League did not want to see it for business reasons. The Chiefs are one of the best, if not the best, football team, with a commanding 10-2 record in the AFC West. Led by a versatile offense that featured a talented quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, an explosive receiver in Tyreek Hill and an elusive back in Hunt, Kansas City was a popular Super Bowl favorite that has had a beyond exciting season.
If the NFL officials wanted to see the video, which is to say they might have and all this is an act where they are pretending as though they did not, it would have probably been the end of the Chiefs’ run and Hunt’s career.
In a similar vein, the NFL attests that it conducted a thorough investigation immediately upon hearing of the incident back in February. While the League may have actually been looking into it, it is hard to believe that it was doing an exceptional job, considering the NFL failed to even contact the victim or Hunt for information. It is unfathomable to think of how you can effectively probe a case without talking to the two most important parties.
Lastly, the NFL is no stranger to domestic violence or assault. These charges have plagued the League for years, whether it was Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott or even Hill, who was accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. The NFL parades a domestic violence policy that it alleges adequately punishes perpetrators, yet Hunt’s case certainly will not be the last.
Hunt’s situation is not that different from the rest either. In 2014, former running back Ray Rice brutalized a woman in a hotel elevator. It was not until TMZ released a video of the incident that the NFL handed down an indefinite suspension.
While Hunt may deserve a suspension as severe as Rice’s, it is important to understand that the NFL is also deserving of considerable blame. It is clear that the League continues to botch domestic violence cases for business reasons, as evidenced by its failure to obtain the video and conduct an efficient investigation. Maybe the NFL should consider caring as much about domestic violence as it does deflated footballs.