Hunt’s mor­tal sin: Ly­ing, not vi­o­lence

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - SCOREBOARD -

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ka­reem Hunt pushed and kicked a woman and that would have been OK. He is good enough at foot­ball that the Chiefs might have stuck by him. If not them, then cer­tainly some­one else. That’s the way the NFL op­er­ates, af­ter all.

But then he lied.

And now he’s un­em­ployed.

“Ka­reem was not truth­ful,” the Chiefs said in a state­ment. “We are re­leas­ing Ka­reem im­me­di­ately.”

This is shock­ing, and there isn’t a lot in sports that should be shock­ing any­more.

NFL teams are no­to­ri­ous for al­low­ing their prin­ci­ples to be shaped by tal­ent, but the Chiefs just re­leased one of the best run­ning backs on the planet and an im­por­tant part of what may or may not still be the league’s most dy­namic of­fense.

There is no way to know what might’ve hap­pened if Hunt was truth­ful from the be­gin­ning, but the Chiefs’ state­ment gave the im­pres­sion that this was about the lie.

He made chair­man Clark Hunt — no re­la­tion, he’d want you to know — look bad and weak. That was Ka­reem’s fa­tal sin, re­vealed in a video that was ob­tained by TMZ Sports from a sur­veil­lance cam­era at a Cleve­land ho­tel.

One bit of lo­gis­tics be­fore we pro­ceed. The Chiefs knew im­me­di­ately upon see­ing the video that Hunt would never play for them again. They waited un­til the NFL put him on the Com­mis­sioner Ex­empt List to en­sure he wouldn’t play against them this season.

Be­cause there is al­ways a foot­ball ele­ment to this, no mat­ter how any of us view do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or the cul­tural shift against it over the last few years. Hunt might play for some­one else. The Chiefs just wanted to make sure it wasn’t against them this season.

OK, now some per­spec­tive. This is not Ray Rice 2.0. Maybe we need to say that plainly, be­cause this is an­other video of an­other NFL run­ning back be­ing vi­o­lent with a woman in a ho­tel. Peo­ple made that con­nec­tion im­me­di­ately, in­clud­ing in the TMZ story. But Hunt is not drag­ging a woman he beat un­con­scious across the floor.

That does not make Hunt’s ac­tions ac­cept­able. Nei­ther does any ex­cuse of kids be­ing kids, or al­co­holin­duced bad de­ci­sions. We don’t know what the woman said or did out­side the video, but that doesn’t mat­ter in terms of what’s most im­por­tant here. Don’t hit a woman. It’s not hard.

The rest of Hunt’s ca­reer — as­sum­ing there is a ca­reer — will be viewed in some ways through the prism of this video. He will not out­run this. No apol­ogy can com­pletely elim­i­nate the stench.

In the video, he is seen shov­ing a 19-year-old woman hard, twice, and later knocks a friend into the same woman, send­ing both crash­ing to the ground. Then the kick.

It’s also note­wor­thy that the Chiefs star run­ning back’s friends thought to take cell phones from the woman and her friends, pre­sum­ably to delete any­thing be­ing recorded.

Be­fore the video came out, the Fe­bru­ary po­lice re­port showed this as one of those aw­ful, un­for­tu­nate, and hazy he-said-she-saids. With the video, it is clear that Hunt was vi­o­lent, and that no provo­ca­tion that has so far been of­fered could be used as rea­son­able jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Many ques­tions re­main, two more no­table than oth­ers:

Law en­force­ment and pre­sum­ably pros­e­cu­tors saw the video and still de­clined to press charges. Why?

And does Hunt — who also al­legedly punched a man in the face in June — have con­trol or anger is­sues that make him a dan­ger?

But those are ques­tions for an­other day, and an­other de­bate.

The same week one team signed a strug­gling line­backer who’d been ar­rested on an­other do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charge, the Chiefs re­leased a star run­ning back ap­par­ently for ly­ing about an in­ci­dent that did not in­volve charges.

There will be con­nec­tions made be­tween this and Tyreek Hill, the star re­ceiver drafted by the Chiefs two years ago. At the time, Hill was on pro­ba­tion af­ter plead­ing guilty to punch­ing and stran­gling his then­preg­nant girl­friend.

The Chiefs said they were con­fi­dent Hill was com­mit­ted to be a bet­ter man, and at least so far the de­ci­sion could not be more pro­duc­tive. Hill is among the league’s best re­ceivers, with­out even a ru­mor of any trou­ble.

Their sit­u­a­tions are dif­fer­ent for a lot of rea­sons, most ob­vi­ously that Hill’s crime hap­pened when he was in col­lege. He had taken own­er­ship of it, and al­ready been pun­ished be­yond the le­gal sys­tem when Ok­la­homa State re­voked his schol­ar­ship.

Hunt was a pro­fes­sional rep­re­sent­ing the Chiefs, and he lied.

We can get dis­tracted with the ar­gu­ment over what’s ac­cept­able and what’s not, over what’s worth a sus­pen­sion and what’s worth a re­lease. Maybe we can take that up at some point. For now, here’s what’s clear:

Ka­reem Hunt cost him­self money, rep­u­ta­tion, and the pur­suit of a Su­per Bowl ring this year for the stu­pid­est of rea­sons.

Clark Hunt has re­sponded in the strong­est way pos­si­ble, one that may cost his team on the field. There are no moral high grounds left in the NFL, but this is at least a move sac­ri­fic­ing short-term foot­ball for broader pri­or­i­ties.

Ka­reem has made him­self a fool. Clark re­fused to play one.

Ja­son Hanna / Getty Images

Chiefs run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt runs to the side­lines be­fore kick­off against the Mi­ami Dol­phins in Kansas City, Mo., in 2017.

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