By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The more we learn about the NFL’s role in investigating Kareem Hunt, the worse the league looks.
That is, of course, only true if we assume that the NFL does actually care about violence by players toward women. That is a commitment the NFL has claimed to have made countless times, especially in the past five years. So, one might surmise that the league would have at least made the effort to appear to have some desire to find out what happened when Kareem Hunt was questioned by police after an altercation with a woman in a hotel in February.
But with each new development, it appears as though the NFL solely desired to sweep this one under the rug, in hopes that the general public would forget about it. That plan worked out … for nine months. Now, there is this.
Consider the following.
–The NFL never interviewed Kareem Hunt.
Here’s a lede for you, from ESPN:
“In its investigation into the February assault that cost Kareem Hunt his job, the NFL did not interview the running back or the woman he shoved and kicked, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.”
Here’s a sentence that follows. It may be even worse:
“The NFL never requested an interview with Hunt after the assault that occurred outside his Cleveland residence, sources said.”
To recap: Player gets accused of shoving and kicking a woman, police question player, NFL learns about incident, NFL doesn’t request interview with player.
If we didn’t have years of similar treatment of similar situations, this would be unbelievable.
Mind you, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated both publicly and in a letter to owners following the Ray Rice fiasco that the league would take strides toward the forefront of domestic violence matters. For years, the league has stressed how seriously it takes such matters. Goodell has stated how committed he vowed to be toward handling such matters and meting out punishment.
So, one might believe that, after a player was involved in an alleged altercation with a female in a hotel room, the league would perhaps want to speak to that player. Interview that player. Ask the player what happened.
Maybe the player would lie. Or maybe, like Ray Rice, he’d tell the truth — only to be painted as a liar by the NFL when the truth gets exposed by a celebrity gossip news entity.
Whatever the case may be, the NFL can’t ever again claim that it takes seriously charges of players committing violent acts on women if the league didn’t even sit down with the accused player.
It gets worse, too.
–The NFL not only didn’t seek out surveillance video from the hotel, but the league also reportedly told the Chiefs to stop trying to acquire the video.
The Chiefs, at least to some extent, appeared willing to try to go through the investigative process to gather information. That included, obviously, seeking out any available surveillance video from the hotel.
But, according to Nate Taylor of The Athletic, the league told the Chiefs to stop trying:
“The Chiefs, according to multiple league sources, knew video evidence of the altercation existed, but they were told by the NFL to stop pursuing it later in February once the league began its investigation.”
This was an effort, according to Taylor, by the NFL to prevent teams with “vested interest in keeping players on the field” from taking a leading role in such investigations.
The NFL was essentially telling the Chiefs, “Thanks, good job, but we’ve got it from here.”
The NFL then followed that up by never acquiring the video.
TMZ did acquire the video, though, because TMZ actually wanted to acquire the video.
–The NFL claims to believe it did as much as possible.
This is also from the ESPN story:
“The NFL believes it did everything possible from a legal standpoint. The league could not subpoena the hotel or police for the video.”
Such a statement might carry more weight if the NFL had perhaps interrogated the accused player. And it also might be more believable if we didn’t already know that the league really didn’t try to obtain all available information on Josh Brown in 2016. It might be more believable if we didn’t already know that the NFL handled its Greg Hardy “reinstatement hearing” in an appalling manner. (Roger Goodell didn’t have the time to even attend that meeting.) And it might be more believable if we didn’t already know that the lead investigator into allegations against Ezekiel Elliott actually recommended no punishment on the player. (The league of course punished him anyway.)
And, really, it’s impossible to believe the NFL cares about such matters when the NFL based its light punishment of Ray Rice on the idea that he lied to them during his meeting with Goodell. The NFL disingenuously acted appalled and disgusted after seeing video from within the elevator, video which showed Rice punching his then-fiancee and soon-to-be wife. That shocked reaction came well after the NFL had already seen Rice dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. Perhaps the league thought she slipped and fell?
Frankly, it’s outright impossible to take the NFL at its word when it says it actually tried to investigate a case of a player committing an act of violence against a woman. The NFL lied in 2014 regarding Ray Rice, and despite promises to the contrary, the league has made zero progress in handling such matters since then. The preposterous rug-sweeping of the Giants’ kicker in 2016 should really have been the final straw with regard to this particular leadership group’s involvement in any such matters.
Nevertheless, in 2018, here we are. Same as it was five years ago. There’s no reason to believe it will ever change.