NFL: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

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As a dyed-in-the-wool Chiefs fan, I have a problem.

Last fall, the Chiefs released running back Kareem Hunt.  A video released by TMZ showed Hunt in an altercation with a woman in a hotel.  We probably all formed an opinion of Kareem Hunt at that point.  Mine was that if it was a one-time incident, he had acted in a stupid and unthinking manner.  If it was indicative of his character—if he has a tendency to drink too much and kick at women—he should not play for the NFL.  He is a tremendously talented football player, but I agreed with the Chiefs; you behave like that, you’re off the team and you can go sell used cars instead of playing professional football.  I hated to lose Kareem Hunt, but it felt like the painfully right thing to do.

Hunt had been placed on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt list prior to his release, prohibiting him from practicing and playing with the team.  So, as a clearly uneducated fan, I assumed the NFL would agree with the Chiefs organization and that, sadly, Kareem Hunt would disappear from the NFL.

But in February of 2019, Hunt was signed by the Cleveland Browns!  Due to the pending investigation from the NFL into the domestic violence allegations against him, Hunt was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list after signing his Cleveland contract. On March 15, 2019, the NFL announced that Hunt had been suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He will be able to participate in all off-season workouts and all preseason games.  Following the announcement, Hunt was added to the Browns’ active roster.

I am not a football expert. I am just a guy who loves to watch a player with Hunt’s talent.  I don’t understand all the rules. After Hunt’s release from the Chiefs, my thought was “What a waste of talent.  But yeah, you’ve gotta let him go.”  Yet now, within months, he’s playing for the Cleveland Browns after a slap on the wrist from the league.

Something isn’t right here.  Not only is he playing in the NFL, but he’s playing for an opponent and the NFL has apparently set the cost of unacceptable behavior at eight games.  So the Kansas City Chiefs are rewarded for doing the right thing by moving a talented player to an opposing team.  Again, I don’t know the rules, but I don’t think the Chiefs are in the business of trying to get rid of their talent.

My opinion of Kareem Hunt hasn’t changed.  He is an athlete of tremendous talent who does not or cannot recognize appropriate behavior.  Tragically, he also apparently  doesn’t see the connection between inappropriate behavior and his responsibility as a role model for young people.  So I was sadly OK with all this until another team picked him up.

Again, I don’t know all the rules, but I know what’s right.  All the teams in the NFL should play from the same page.  We should all say “Kareem, it’s time for yodbsig2u to find a new career.”  Or, if we play by the NFL’s judgement, Kansas City should be entitled to the right of first refusal.  We didn’t kick him off the team; he literally kicked himself off.  It’s on the video. But if the NFL is saying he should play, then he should be playing for us.

8 thoughts on “NFL: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

  1. As usual, Dick, I enjoyed your writing. Unfortunately, I have no great passion for football so I was only marginally aware of the incident. But, I agree with all you said. MLB recently suspended a Phillies player for domestic abuse. He was a key player on a team with post season potential. He is out for more than half the season and is not eligible for post season. He is also required to take classes in anger management. Bottom line is the NFL is more tolerant of thugs than MLB.

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  2. And a lot of that sort of thing is now “common,” sad to say. But my argument is against the crime and I am dumbfounded by the NFL’s namby-pamby, willy-nilly approach to it. I believe ANY sort of domestic abuse is unacceptable for anyone. But well-paid, widely-known athletes have an additional responsibility to young people. So: NFL, YOU decide if it’s right or wrong. If it’s wrong, then hit the highway. If somehow in their legal and “politically correct” departments, it ends up being RIGHT, then why does the team who did the right thing get penalized? In Kareem Hunt’s case, the only losers are the Kansas City Chiefs. DB

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  3. Obviously if there is enough money on the table, you can have it both ways. Moving a player to a different team is the same as moving a priest to a different diocese.

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  4. I don’t disagree SLH. But I don’t like it. I was OK with the moral issue and response. But then it wasn’t the response I thought it was! The NFL resolved nothing in this case AND it penalized a team for the behavior of its player. DB

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  5. Another thought: During the playoff game, a Chiefs fan tried to interfere with Brady by aiming a laser at his eyes during the game. The league found him, and barred him from ANY NFL game for LIFE. I support that. Not quite the same response in Kareem Hunt’s case. DB

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