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Opinion: NFL needs to rethink how it handles domestic violence

On Monday, Feb. 11, the Cleveland Browns announced that they signed running back Kareem Hunt to a one-year deal – one that could be worth more than $1 million. 

My initial reaction? I was appalled. 

The following reaction? Anger, disgust and confusion.

Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs in November 2018 after a video was released of Hunt knocking a woman down and then kicking her in a hotel. He was also placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, which means that he is not eligible to play until the NFL completes its investigation into the incidents and a decision regarding discipline is made. 

Now, not even three months later, Hunt finds himself on another NFL team.  

As for who still remains unsigned? Colin Kaepernick.

Sure, Kaepernick isn’t a great quarterback. But the fact that he remains unsigned, whether you believe the NFL conspiracy or not, points to a very big problem in the NFL.  

That problem is the failure of the NFL in acknowledging issues when they first occur and the acceptance of these actions by teams, simply because the player is a producer. 

I’m all for giving people second chances, but not this soon. Signing Hunt now proves that it doesn’t matter when the incident happened, nor does it matter what the outcome of his discipline is, because the Browns “believe he deserves a second chance.” 

Right now, he doesn’t deserve a second chance. His apology was not sincere, he has had three violent incidents in 2018 and the investigation is not completed. What he does need is professional help, which is he supposed to be getting, not a contract that only encourages the idea that actions like these are okay because the need for the top player seems to always defeat the need for better morals.

Not only is it bad enough that an incident like this happened, but one of the crucial aspects is the fact that the NFL brushed it under the rug when it was brought to their attention after it first occurred. Hunt was still playing football despite the NFL’s investigation already being underway following the incident in February. After the release of the video, they claimed the investigation will now include a review of the “new” information that was made public.  

So you’re saying that TMZ was able to get a hold of the video surveillance footage but the NFL wasn’t? You’re saying that the NFL was aware of the incident but proceeded to allow Hunt to stay on the field, rather than publicly addressing that an incident occurred and that Hunt would remain away from football until it was determined?

Low and behold, brushing things under the rug isn’t something new for the NFL. It’s been a consistent issue. They’ve updated their personal conduct policy to say that violations regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will have a baseline suspension of six games without pay, which came about after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received criticism for suspending Ray Rice for only two games, but it has proved to be meaningless. 

In 2018, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended three games for touching an Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.”

In 2015, former Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was suspended four games for domestic violence with a weapon. 

Former Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He was suspended one game, but was placed on the commissioner's exempt list only after backlash against the NFL’s decision. He hasn’t played since. 

Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott is the only player to have served a six-game suspension after “causing injuries” to his ex-girlfriend three times in five days. He appealed the suspension, but it was upheld due to the injuries, not because of the rules. 

The sad truth is, those are just a few examples of the NFL’s blatant disregard of its own policy. 

It may be trying to prove its dedication to helping these issues, but has instead done the complete opposite.

The message they have sent? The NFL continues to not care about domestic abuse or violence survivors. 

That’s a big problem. 

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