On Nov. 29, the Kansas City Chiefs released Kareem Hunt after a video surfaced of Hunt assaulting a woman.
The University of Toledo graduate took off like a rocket in his rookie campaign and continued to ooze potential in his second year, as he was on pace to reach 1,000 rushing yards once again. After a video surfaced of him hitting a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February, his chances at success plummeted to the ground.
Hunt was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List after the video surfaced, meaning he cannot play, attend practices or go to games for an indefinite period of time.
While this is not the first case of domestic violence in the league, it could potentially represent how the NFL will allow issues of this magnitude to persist.
Although not to the same degree of violence as Hunt, Reuben Foster was on waivers for three days during his domestic violence allegations before being signed by the Washington Redskins. For a few days, there was debate of whether or not he should be on a roster, but those talks have become an afterthought.
Since the accusations against Foster had no video evidence, his case was able to slip under the rug and allow him to continue playing. In Hunt’s case, teams will most likely opt to not sign him for the remainder of this season, but they may eventually race to acquire the 23-year-old’ before next season begins.
The NFL has created a true ethical problem with how it handles similar issues. If a player is good enough to contribute to a team, and in some cases, further a playoff push, then teams are willing to take the heat from the public eye for picking up that player. After all, it will end in the same way – nobody caring about the issue weeks later.
Fellow Pro Bowler and Hunt’s former teammate, Tyreek Hill, does not even have his domestic violence issue mentioned anymore. Hill punched and choked his, at the time, pregnant girlfriend in college. The ‘cheetah,’ as he is dubbed around the NFL, quickly escaped from any lingering turmoil that would stem from the issue when the Chiefs signed him.
According to ESPN.com, the NFL has accounted for 46 of the 50 most-watched television programs during the fall. Hill was the main catalyst in the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game of all-time, in which he pulled in 10 catches, a whopping 215 yards and two touchdowns. Without Hunt and Hill, point totals of 105 would be hard to come by.
An unnamed NFL team executive had an interesting but all-too-real perspective on the issue. Hunt is just another player in the public eye that made a horrible decision but reflects that if future players of his caliber or greater commit the same crimes, nothing will happen in the long run.
“Show me one example where our league suffered from signing players like Hunt,” he said. “That’s why he’ll play again. There are no repercussions for signing guys like him. But there are if you don’t.”
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.