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On Friday, TMZ released a video from this last February of Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt engaged in a verbal altercation with a women at a Cleveland hotel before shoving her to the ground and then proceeding to kick her in the head. Then the circus that is the National Football League (NFL) began scrambling to handle its latest case of domestic violence.
Now, this is still a developing story, and there are facts that I should lay out first. This incident was not kept secret and was reported by the local news at the time. It is true that no charges were filed at the time. But the NFL decided to take the Chiefs at their word that they were investigating the incident, willingly choosing to ignore the Chiefs’ obvious conflict of interest. And when the league did decide to follow up on the incident, once they were told they could not look at the tape, they decided that no further inquiry was needed.
If this isn’t a perfect example of how the NFL truly only cares about protecting the bottom line, particularly by controlling who knows what and when, I don’t know what is.
The league would like its fans to think that it has come a long way since it botched the Ray Rice incident in 2014, where the former Baltimore Ravens running back knocked out his then fiancé in an elevator. The NFL’s initial response was a two-game suspension. But then, in similar fashion, TMZ released a video of the incident, forcing the NFL to back track. Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted, after public outcry, that he had gotten it wrong and the NFL changed their ruling.
In his final report on that incident, Robert Mueller (yes, the same one) wrote that the NFL failed to “ask Rice or his lawyer whether they would make the tape (of the incident) available,” or to “follow up with the Ravens to determine whether they had additional information.” In the end, he concluded his report with the determination that “the NFL should have done more with the information it had, and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 incident.”
While it was revealed that the NFL had not seen the video of that incident or the Hunt incident before they were released to the public, the NFL could have done more both times. And what makes this even worse is that the NFL even pledged to do more after Rice. And yet it was somehow impossible for a league that makes $14 billion a year to obtain tape of an incident of one of its up-and-coming stars in order to live up to its own obligation to make sure it has the most information.
Clearly, the league is hoping that the fans will react in the same way they have when these incidents happen. Brief public outcry, NFL team cuts the player, followed up by empty promises by both the team and the league to do more and then we can all get back to watching Monday Night Football.
Domestic violence among athletes is not unique to the NFL. But it seems the NFL struggles the most with addressing this issue the right way.
In order to see real change, the NFL needs to truly do all it can to get all of the information that is available, be more willing to help and cooperate with the victim and take more preventative measures to ensure its athletes don’t commit these terrible acts.
Jack Dunn is a Campus News Editor for the Newswire. He is a junior sport management major from Wilmette, Ill.