Skip to main content

The NFL is still out of its league when it comes to disciplining players for troubles off the field.

Kareem Hunt is the latest example of the NFL’s delayed and inconsistent approach toward serious matters despite league efforts to improve following its mishandling of Ray Rice’s domestic violence case in 2014.

From Greg Hardy to Mychal Kendricks to Reuben Foster, the NFL has taken different approaches on a case-by-case basis when players misbehave. That has drawn a backlash from critics who see such action as erratic and, at times, pandering to public perception.

Story continues below advertisement

Hunt, the former Kansas City running back, was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list Friday after TMZ released a video showing him pushing and kicking a woman during a February scuffle at a Cleveland hotel. The video’s jolt across the sports world accelerated a case that had been, in effect, put on the backburner for both the club and the league, with Hunt losing his job the same day — a steep fall for an elite playmaker with one of the most explosive offences in football.

The Chiefs said Hunt had lied to them about the scuffle, an assertion Hunt acknowledged in an interview with ESPN on Sunday. But authorities never charged Hunt with a crime and the league’s internal investigation — under guidance implemented after the lengthy legal saga involving the former Ravens running back Rice — stalled when NFL officials couldn’t get in touch with the woman.

Hunt said he never saw the video until it was released publicly. And he said the league never asked to speak with him directly.

NFL officials say they tried several times to get video of the confrontation, but couldn’t because the hotel said its corporate policy only allowed footage to be given to law enforcement. And Cleveland police say they didn’t pursue the video because it wasn’t a felony case.

Now, the NFL says it will make “further attempts to speak to the complainants involved in the incident,” and have “further conversations with all parties involved.”

Just as it did during the Rice case in 2014, the NFL is changing its reaction amid jarring video, prompting new public outcry.

But the league also must conform to the collective-bargaining agreement, which gives players certain protections through their union. Still, the agreement grants commissioner Roger Goodell ultimate authority to issue punishment. That has been a major point of contention for the NFL Players Association and is shaping up to be a major sticking point once the broader agreement expires in 2021.

Story continues below advertisement

NFL and NFLPA officials did not respond to messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Hunt cleared waivers on Monday and could sign with another team. He can’t play while he’s on the exempt list, but it’s up to Goodell and league officials to decide when to take him off when – or if – they see fit.

Foster was claimed off waivers by Washington last week after the San Francisco 49ers released the linebacker following a domestic violence arrest. Washington faced immediate criticism as the latest example of an organization looking past off-field troubles toward potential on-field production.

In September, linebacker Mychal Kendricks pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy and was released by the Cleveland Browns. He was quickly signed by the Seattle Seahawks, then suspended for eight games by the NFL for his role in an insider-trading scheme. Kendricks faces up to 25 years in prison with sentencing scheduled for next month.

Still, Kendricks was officially reinstated by the NFL on Monday and has been with Seattle the past two weeks. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says team officials “don’t have any hesitation” about playing Kendricks against Minnesota next Monday night.

Hardy was convicted in July, 2014, of assaulting and threatening a woman who contended the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in a bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her.

Story continues below advertisement

He appealed the ruling and was allowed to play the first game of the season before the Carolina Panthers placed him on the exempt list. Hardy didn’t play the rest of the season but signed an incentive-laden, US$13.1-million deal with the Cowboys and played 12 games in 2015 after serving a four-game suspension.

He’s been out of the league the last three years, focusing on a mixed martial arts career with the UFC.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter