It’s been a banner week for the NFL remaining everyone that when it comes to their players and personnel putting their hands on women, the league really doesn’t care. At least not until it becomes a PR concern.
Update: The Chiefs have now released the player in question, RB Kareem Hunt. Here’s their statement:
Statement from the Kansas City Chiefs on Kareem Hunt
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 1, 2018
Our original post follows:
This is not a hot take. This is not a new or unique thing to say. But it should be said, again and again until something actually changes.
Tuesday, the Washington Redskins claimed Reuben Foster off waivers after the 49ers had released him on the heels of a domestic violence arrest (his second in a year). Redskins executive Doug Williams told reporters afterward that the team’s decision-makers were “unified” in their choice to claim Foster and he also went on to say that what Foster is accused of is “small potatoes” when compared to what other people have done. He has since apologized, but it’s fair to say that the way Williams couched Foster’s domestic violence charge is the way a lot of “football people” see assault against women.
Then on Friday, TMZ released a video from February that showed Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt brutally attacking a woman in a hotel. The incident was known and had been reported on, but seeing the video it’s hard to understand exactly how Hunt escaped any kind of charges as well as any kind of punishment from the team or the league. At the time, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt addressed the incident as a learning experience for a young player, saying “I’m sure he learned some lessons this offseason and hopefully won’t be in those kind of situations in the future.”
I am told the Chiefs sent Kareem Hunt home from the facility today upon learning of the release of the video and pending further action. Most likely short-term resolution is that Hunt would be placed on the commissioner's exempt list pending a final decision, but we will see.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) November 30, 2018
Per ESPN, Hunt was at practice on Friday but was then sent home and excused from team activities after the release of the video. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll play this weekend, though it now seems unlikely. It’s also unclear what Roger Goodell and the NFL will do now. They are expected to place him on the exempt list until they’re able to decide his fate (UPDATE: They did). But given how wishy-washy Goodell and the NFL have been on assaults and violence against women by NFL players, it’s hard to know what will come of this. Presumably, he’ll lay down a two-to-three game suspension and hope that appeases enough people.
On the NFL will move, happy to discuss ratings and brand awareness and corporate sponsorships. Until the next time that an NFL player lays their hands on a woman half their size.
The latest incident is a stark reminder of the Ray Rice incident, which both the Ravens and the NFL were happy to sweep under the rug until video evidence showed the RB assaulting his wife in an elevator. While a lot of people have noted that it often takes video for people to take domestic violence seriously, it’s also worth noting that, in both instances, the team and league were almost certainly aware of the video footage long before it ever became public.
I can tell you with absolute, iron-clad 100% certainty the league and team knew of the existence of video.
I cannot prove they did or did not watch it.#KareemHunt
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) November 30, 2018
They weren’t waiting for more proof, they were just hoping the proof never came to light.
Especially given the climate we live in right now, it’s inconceivable for any business or entity to continue treating violence against women as “small potatoes” and something that can be glossed over. That the NFL continues to make the same mistakes (or doesn’t care in the first place) drives home just how behind the curve they are.
Kareem Hunt will play again…
Colin Kaepernick will not…
Because in the NFL it’s okay to abuse but not okay to protest abuse.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) November 30, 2018
Again, it’s not like we didn’t know that before this week. But weeks like this remind us that, when push comes to shove, literally, the NFL does not care.