NFL turns blind eye to domestic abuse

Jordan Latimore, Sports Columnist

In February of 2019, the Cleveland Browns signed Pro-Bowl running back Kareem Hunt to a one-year deal. Hunt was let go by the Kansas City Chiefs in December of 2018 after TMZ released a video showing him pushing and kicking an unidentified woman and is currently on the commissioner’s exempt list and is awaiting a decision that will likely result in an indefinite suspension from the NFL.
This signing has stirred up controversy not only because of the how disturbing Hunt’s actions in the video are, but also because of how soon the Browns decided to pursue a contract with him.
Facing suspension in a league that has a history of handing out harsh punishment in these types of incidents — the Greg Hardy and Ray Rice situations being some of the most notable — the idea of signing Hunt right now seems to be extremely premature, given that whichever team does pick him up wouldn’t know if he would even see the field this upcoming season.
This begs the question: why did the Browns act so quick to sign someone with this much baggage? They weren’t the only team interested. The Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles were reportedly also thinking about signing Hunt, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The fact that multiple teams were considering adding someone of such notoriety to their roster suggests that the standard for teams when it comes to dealing domestic violence is declining.
The Hunt situation isn’t the only example of this change. Just five days prior to Kareem Hunt getting released by the Chiefs, former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was released by San Francisco after news came out he was involved in a domestic incident with his girlfriend. Foster was immediately placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and was awaiting a decision from the NFL on his suspension when, just four days later, he was claimed off waivers by the Washington Redskins.
These transactions reveal a disturbing pattern in the NFL: teams are excusing skilled players with past and current conflicts in order to acquire talent on cheap contracts. NFL teams don’t care about what makes people feel uncomfortable or whose feelings they hurt, they simply just want to win football games — which is what the business of sports is all about.
When players of Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt’s caliber are put in a position where they are willing to play on cap-friendly deals just to prove themselves to be trustworthy again, teams will seize that opportunity to make these additions to their roster — no matter how many mistakes these players make off the field, or how many people they hurt in the process.