Hunting for Justice
The NFL is second to none in America. It leads in ratings and is talked about on sports shows more often than any other sport. But for all its popularity in this country, finding a less progressive professional sports league might prove too tough a task. Domestic violence and the NFL’s handling of such cases has been an ongoing issue for several years and the league seems to have either learned nothing or chosen not to care about its previous mistakes which makes this latest move all the more excruciating.
Former Kansas City Chiefs star running back Kareem Hunt was signed on Feb. 12 by the Cleveland Browns. Hunt was released in November of 2018 by the Chiefs following the release of a video in which Hunt was seen shoving and kicking a woman. The altercation took place earlier in the year, but the video had not been released. When he was released by the Chiefs, questions immediately began to swirl across sports talk shows, local bars and with sports fans across the country debating over if this was the end of Hunt’s football career or if another team would give him a second chance.
Cleveland Browns general manager Jon Dorsey commented on the signing “We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions. Given what we know about Kareem through our extensive research, we believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with the understanding that he has to go through critical and essential steps to become a performing member of this organization.” The rest of Dorsey’s statement can be found here.
ESPN’s Maria Taylor echoed frustrations felt throughout the country by those who felt the NFL had once again failed to effectively discipline players with patterns of violence towards women. Her sentiments echo with many supporters of women’s rights and by the thousands who feel as if the NFL has mishandled violent offenders in the past (i.e. Greg Hardy, Reuben Foster, Ezekiel Elliot etc.). Taylor has a point considering how the Chiefs have completely mishandled this situation from the beginning. The Chiefs knew about the altercation Hunt was involved in months ago, but chose to do nothing and hand out no punishment until after the video was released.
It reminds me of the Ray Rice domestic violence situation. Rice was initially suspended a measly two games by the league office for punching then fiancee Janay Taylor. Once the video of his violent acts became public, he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league. There is a running theme in the NFL of domestic violence being swept under the rug unless indisputable video evidence appears.
Hall of Fame receiver and current sports talk show host Chris Carter is pleased that the Browns have given Hunt a second chance explaining how he is glad one mistake doesn’t end a man’s career.
While I am a believer in second chances let’s not act like a Marijuana charge and domestic violence charge are equal. The latter is completely indefensible. I am of the opinion the NFL needs to enact a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of violent attacks against women. Continuing to sign athletes to big contracts after committing heinous shows the public and future players the NFL is only concerned with notching up another win. It’s time for the NFL to take a proactive approach to end this disease brewing in its league. It could have started with Hunt, but for now, the NFL is content to let violence stand.
View footage Kareem Hunt altercation. See it for yourself and make up your mind if this is someone who should be playing on Sundays.
Tyler Bradshaw is a senior at Anderson University, majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. Tyler is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.