There’s been a lot said and a lot written about a series of incredibly unsavoury events over the last week in the NFL. Two very talented and potential superstars of the league, running back Kareem Hunt and linebacker Reuben Foster embroiled in domestic violence charges. From a personal point of view (and this is very much my own opinion), I hope they never play in the league again. I hope that the NFL finally makes an example of this type of action and bans them for life. But I don’t think that will happen.
The relatively short and turbulent story of Foster is a well told one. Thrown out of the combine for an incident with a nurse, his draft stock fell from the top of the first round to the bottom. Yet the 49ers took a chance on him and for the first year, it looked to be a chance well taken. In the off season there were arrests for gun ownership and assaulting a woman as well as use of marijuana. Still, the 49ers stood by him and when the assault charges were overturned it looked like a sound move again by the 49ers. Lastly, another assault charge in Tampa over the weekend and this time, the 49ers had run out of patience and dropped him. It was one too many times for the organisation and I, as a fan, agree with them, even if the charge is unfounded. It’s irresponsible for the player himself to put himself into these situations in the first place. Sure, bad luck happens and you can unwittingly stumble into these unfortunate events but the decisions Foster made were consistently wrong.
It was a surprise that a team then claimed him off waivers. The Redskins have tried to ride the PR nightmare of the acquisition by claiming that former Alabama teammates of Foster’s have backed him. Washington Executive Doug Williams further put his foot into by claiming that the charges against Foster were ‘small potatoes’ when compared to crimes committed by those in power. He’s subsequently apologised. Still though, it’s further come to light that two key players and former Alabama teammates of Foster weren’t spoken to about the player. Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, both first team starters weren’t consulted about Foster, which begs the question – who was?
Kareem Hunt’s case is probably even more serious. TMZ released video of him shoving and kicking a woman in a hotel in February. The Chiefs swiftly dropped Hunt and claimed he had lied to them when questioned about the incident. It’s still unclear whether they dropped him for lying or for the charge, hopefully it’s the latter and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. The NFL quickly added him to the commissioner’s exempt list. Time will tell if he’s claimed off waivers but with a further charge of punching a man, if he is picked up by a team, he’ll be facing a long suspension.
Before we heap praise on the Chiefs for dropping Hunt so quickly after unequivocal evidence of the crime was released. Let’s not forget that they drafter Tyreek Hill who has had his own dark history. A player many teams wouldn’t touch, the Chiefs took a chance and again, it’s seemingly worked out well but I for one, whilst admit he’s amazingly talented, struggle to root for a player with his history.
The fact that Hunt’s charge was in February and is only coming to light now is worrying. The fact that the NFL, a billion dollar organisation with a legion of security and investigation officers could not get access to the video and yet TMZ could, is also a concern.
So what do I think should happen? To me, it still feels like the NFL are more concerned with the PR than they are with taking a moral stance against domestic violence. They are too slow and cumbersome and inconsistent when it comes to serving out justice. How quick & desperate were they to deal with Zeke Elliott? Yet when the Hunt case first came to light in February, nothing happened, we didn’t even know about it. There was no witch hunt like there seemingly was against Zeke.
It’s time for the NFL to start holding their players to a higher moral ground. They are, on the whole, very well paid for playing a game they love. They are role models to the younger generations who idolise them and also those others who’s only escape is to watch them play on a Sunday afternoon.