In the second half of the 2018 NFL regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs were one of the best teams in the league, setting records with their offensive production.
This production would not have been possible without key player Kareem Hunt. Hunt, a dynamic weapon and UT alumnus, can be utilized by an NFL offense in many ways.
However, Hunt had his second season in the NFL derailed by a domestic violence case and was subsequently frozen out of the league while the Chiefs made a run at their first Super Bowl since 1970.
So, why did it take so long for anything to happen to Kareem Hunt when the incident happened in February 2018? To answer that question, it’s important to examine the NFL’s marred and very muddy domestic violence policy.
If you take prior cases of how the NFL has handled other abusers, it is clear there really isn’t a unified “policy” on the issue.
The NFL has come under scrutiny because of this, mostly because of the cases involving Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.
Ray Rice, a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, came under fire in 2014 after he was arrested in connection to a domestic violence claim made by his partner at the time, Janay Palmer. Rice was indicted on aggravated assault charges and suspended a meager two games by the NFL.
Months later, TMZ released a video of Rice dragging Palmer and mercilessly beating on her before getting off of an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
When the video was leaked, the NFL and league commissioner Roger Goodell stated that they had no knowledge of the video whatsoever. That was until an AP investigation discovered that the NFL had seen it and decided on a two-game suspension.
With public outrage stewing, Goodell and the Ravens decided against Ray Rice being in the league. The case and story brought to light the major issue the NFL had in dealing with these cases and their lack of transparency.
Clearly, the NFL should have just kicked Ray Rice out of the league whether a video surfaced or not. It’s despicable to say the least that it lasted as long as it did.
The league clearly learned nothing from this and doubled down on its idiotic handling of domestic violence cases with a similar incident involving then-Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
Hardy was sent to trial and eventually received 18 months probation because he strangled his then-girlfriend, threw her into furniture and threatened to murder her.
How did the NFL react? A 10-game suspension. Ten games. And, just so we are clear, an NFL season lasts 16 games, so Hardy wasn’t going to miss an entire season. He later appealed that decision, and his suspension was reduced to four games.
Hardy was eventually released by the Panthers and was then signed by the Dallas Cowboys, where he continued to be paid by the league.
This leads into Hunt’s situation, whose domestic violence incident from February 2018 reached a fever pitch in December when a video was leaked by TMZ showing Hunt hitting, pushing and violently kicking a young woman in a hotel.
Public outrage stirred, and the NFL claimed that they could not obtain the video back in February and didn’t see the video until it was leaked.
They decided to place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he could neither practice nor play until an NFL investigation was done.
However, the Chiefs took the high road and released Hunt the same night the decision was made by the NFL.
The league came under much scrutiny for the incident—not many people believed that the league, as powerful as it is, could not obtain a video that TMZ could.
So, what does this all mean?
The NFL has major issues in its handlings of these cases given the lack of clear, defined punishments geared toward these players.
The NFL is in dire need of a clear set of guidelines so that when these problems arise, they can deal with them swiftly. The league should start by hiring private investigation firms to do investigations, rather than their own team of investigators.
The commissioner’s exempt list should consist of any and all players accused of improprieties until a thorough investigation can be launched.
The NFL should be willing to spend any amounts of money and time necessary to ensure their league is as transparent as possible.
Whether or not you believe that these men and countless other abusers, who have graced the multitude of NFL fields deserve a second chance after some sort of rehabilitation process is a perfectly valid opinion, but it does miss the point, which remains, why after all this time and complications can the NFL still not figure this the hell out?
Adam Jacobs is a third-year student double majoring in history and political science.