ANALYSIS: NFL Fumbles Another Domestic Violence Incident with Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt


Running back Kareem Hunt running back was released by the Kansas City Chiefs six months after attacking a woman outside his Cleveland hotel room.

The NFL does a lot of things right, but the one area where it can’t seem to get it right is in how it handles allegations of domestic abuse brought against it players. On the surface, it may appear that the NFL takes such charges seriously, but a look at how the league bungled the handling of its most recent domestic abuse incident involving former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt shows that it would rather not address such instances as long as they don’t become widely known.

On Nov. 30, the Chiefs released Hunt when the tabloid news website TMZ released a video of Hunt  kicking and shoving a woman in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel back in February. On the surface, it looks like the Chiefs took a no-tolerance approach to the incident by immediately releasing Hunt.

However, when considering the the Chiefs and the NFL were made aware of the incident shortly after it occured back in February but only took action after TMZ released the video makes both the team and league look somewhat disingenuous when claiming they take domestic abuse allegations seriously. The release of Hunt looks more like a face-saving move than a no-tolerance stance on domestic abuse.

The NFL is the home to most popular sport in America. Over 15 million people watch each televised game. And over the years, its players have been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons ranging from drug use to “disrespecting the anthem” to domestic abuse. And if they have been consistent about anything it is in how the punishment is not proportional to the offense but rather to the about of publicity the offense generates.

Make no mistake about it: videos of said offenses generate the publicity it takes for the NFL to flex its no-tolerance muscle. From the 2014 Ray Rice case where a TMZ video showed the then Baltimore Ravens running back knocking out his then fiancee in a hotel elevator to the most recent Hunt video, the NFL has been sending a clear message to its players: if you are going to physically abuse your girlfriend, wife, or just a woman attending your party, make sure it doesn’t end up on video.

The way the NFL has handled this particular case and others in the past have apparently done little to curb its domestic abuse problems. The NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs, apart from Hunt himself, are the ones to blame for the handling of the situation. The Chiefs organization knew about what Hunt did back in February. The Chiefs, trying to resolve a problem with their star player, brought Hunt in to talk about the incident. He lied to them and told the team that he was not involved in the incident.

The Chiefs tried to obtain hotel video, but the NFL called off the investigation. This is where the NFL messes up. Why would an organization as powerful as the NFL pass on a chance to immediately resolve a possible problem that could most likely cause great backlash later down the road?

The NFL stopped worrying about Hunt’s situation until the public knew about it when the video was released. Once released, the NFL placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list, restricting him from all NFL activities, and then he was released by the Chiefs. So why did the NFL wait nearly ten months to resolve a situation?

The NFL did not do anything because they and the Chiefs just assumed that Hunt was being truthful with his denial of his involvement in the incident. It is almost laughable to think that an organization of teams that do exhaustive research into the backgrounds of potential draft picks would just take the accused’s word that he is innocent. Imagine if law enforcement took the same approach into investigating crimes.

Only when the video of Hunt’s beating of the woman in question materializes did the NFL and the Chiefs did the proper actions. Now, both are rightly on the receiving end of the outrage over how they handled the Hunt incident.

One might argue that the Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott case is an exception to this rule, and at first glance that appears to be the case. Elliott was suspended for six games based on a domestic abuse allegation where there was no video. However, taking into account that the publicity around the Elliott charge was so immense and that the NFL was looking to make an example out of Elliott in order to save face over its handling of the Rice case, the league had little choice but to lower the boom on Elliott.

And perhaps the NFL did learn a lesson from its handling of the Elliott case, the wrong lesson.

In the Elliot case, there was no video proof, only the allegation made by the accuser, Elliott’s ex- girlfriend, who was interviewed six different times during the investigation. The woman Hunt attacked was not talked to once by the NFL.

Until the NFL can establish a protocol that it follows consistently when it comes to allegations of domestic abuse against it players, we can be certain the Hunt case won’t be the last that the NFL fumbles the ball on.