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Editorial: NFL Puts Public Image Over Domestic Abuse Victims

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A disturbing video emerged Friday showing Kansas City Chiefs running back, Kareem Hunt, hitting and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in February of this year.

Just seven hours later, Hunt was released from the Chiefs.

The NFL had previously acted quickly, placing Hunt on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. The Chiefs were praised for their swift and decisive action, but there are still more questions to be answered.

How was the league unable to obtain a video for months that tabloid TMZ was able to? The league claims they contacted the hotel, who said they only released security footage to law enforcement. They also failed to secure the video from the Cleveland Police Department.

But TMZ shows it was not impossible to get their hands on this video. The league should have done more legwork to obtain the damning evidence.

If the league knew about the incident months prior and failed to act until the video was released, do they truly care about domestic violence or are they just trying to save face in the public eye?

This is not unfamiliar territory for the league. In 2013, then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught on tape in a New Jersey hotel elevator punching his then-fiancee in the face. Initially, the only footage was of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee out of the elevator.

Rice originally received a hilariously light two-game suspension from the league. But months later, a video obtained by TMZ showed Rice dealing the knockout blow. He was subsequently released by the Ravens, effectively ending his playing career.

Since Hunt was not charged by the Cleveland Police Department and he was not punished by the NFL, this is the second recent high-profile situation where the league took little action until a video was released into the public eye.

In Hunt’s instance, the league did not even interview him or the victim in its investigation. Compare this to “DeflateGate,” where the Patriots were accused of slightly deflating footballs and they brought Tom Brady all the way to the appeals court to affirm its unnecessary ruling.

They proved they could go to great lengths to discipline a player who might have slightly deflated footballs, but hardly went to half that length to discipline a player who struck and kicked a 19-year-old woman.

But the league has shown improvement in terms of discipline.

This week, linebacker Rueben Foster was arrested for domestic violence and was promptly released by the San Francisco 49ers. Foster was shockingly claimed by the Washington Redskins in a move that raised eyebrows across the league. But the league stepped in and placed Foster on the Exempt List, meaning he would not play another snap this season.

Despite this improvement, the league has proven they prioritize public image over the safety of potential victims of domestic violence.

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Editorial: NFL Puts Public Image Over Domestic Abuse Victims