In the past few years, I have written multiple articles regarding the NFL and its general disfunction. However, I have yet to address the NFL’s growing problem with domestic abuse, brought yet again to the headlines by Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. A video of Hunt violently assaulting a woman in a hotel lobby in February was recently released by TMZ Sports, in response to which the Chiefs prompt waived Hunt. The move was shocking to many due to Hunt’s prominence but was widely praised as a firm stance by the Chiefs against domestic violence and violence against women. While this may appear to be the case, this scenario is far from the norm and is, in actuality, fraught with hypocrisy.
While the Chiefs organization took a stance by cutting Hunt, the NFL itself has done nothing in the form of discipline against him. This is far from the first time the NFL has been disturbingly lackadaisical in how it deals with players accused of domestic violence. For example, in a 2014 video, again released by TMZ, then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was shown knocking his fiancee out cold in an elevator. The story garnered national attention and outrage accentuated by the fact that Rice only received a two game suspension. While the Rice’s newfound notoriety meant that no team picked him up, the NFL did not take proper action and make this an impossibility.
More recently, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested on domestic violence charges against his then girlfriend Elissa Ennis causing the 49ers to drop him. Unlike Rice however, Foster was claimed by the Washington Redskins, as the NFL has currently taken no action to discipline him.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Players such as Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley, Brandon Marshall and Frostee Rucker just to name a few, have been accused of either physical or sexual assault and are all currently playing in the NFL. This pattern of action, or lack thereof, demonstrates the NFL’s prioritization of their players, and thus profits, over justice for victims.
Finally, while many are lauding the Chiefs organization for their handling of the Hunt case, it seems to have been forgotten that the Chief’s star wide receiver Tyreek Hill plead guilty to punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend while in college. With full knowledge of this, the organization still made the decision to draft Hill in the 5th round of the 2016 draft and keep him on the team even after the Hunt incident.
This double standard demonstrates just how far the NFL as an organization still has to go regarding is handling of domestic violence. While the handling of Kareem Hunt shows that progress can be made, the fact that someone like Tyreek Hill is still allowed to make a roster shows that the league has a long way to go before it is no longer complicit in the crimes of its players.