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NFL Faces More Backlash Over Kareem Hunt Video


There may have been plenty of great football to watch yesterday as NFL teams jockey for playoff positions, but a whole other football story is on many people's minds today. The broad strokes sound familiar. A star player is involved in a violent, off-the-field altercation. The player is Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. The altercation happened back in February, but a video of the incident emerged for the first time on Friday. It shows Hunt shoving and kicking a young woman. The Chiefs cut Hunt from the team hours later. Then in an ESPN interview, Hunt apologized.


KAREEM HUNT: Honestly, I just want to let the world know, you know, how sorry I am for my actions. And, you know, it's been a tough time for me, and I'm extremely embarrassed because of that video.

CHANG: Joining me now to talk about Kareem Hunt is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Hey, Tom.


CHANG: So tell us more about who Kareem Hunt is and what happened here.

GOLDMAN: He is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He's only 23, led the League in yards gained last year in his rookie season. And he was a big part of one of the best offenses in the NFL. The incident in February happened in a hallway of a hotel in Cleveland where he was living at the time. The video shows an incident that quickly escalated. He shoves a woman. She comes back at him, hits him in the face. He shoves a man, who falls into the woman and knocks her over. Then while she crouches on the floor, Hunt walks up and kicks her in the leg.

CHANG: OK, so the Chiefs have just now released Hunt, right? But did the team and the NFL - did they react at all when this happened back in February? Do they know about it before the video came out?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, they did. The Chiefs talked to him, and he lied to them about what happened, and he admits that. And that's what they based their decision on when they released him last Friday, that he lied and the video showed that he lied. Now, the NFL's involvement from the beginning has become a point of contention. After the infamous domestic violence incident in 2014 involving NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee - and it was also seen on videotape - the League admitted it bungled things, and it vowed to do a much better, more complete and more aggressive job investigating and punishing incidents like this if they came up in the future. But it appears the NFL has not done so in this case. Here is ESPN's Lisa Salters with Hunt in yesterday's interview.


LISA SALTERS: Has the NFL ever questioned you about that incident?

HUNT: No, they have not.

SALTERS: Did they ever ask you to talk about that incident?

HUNT: No, they have not.

CHANG: Well, what does the NFL say about that?

GOLDMAN: I reached out twice to the NFL today to ask them that, and I did not hear back by air time. In a tweet last night, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said this. The NFL investigation began immediately following the incident in February. Consistent with standard investigatory practices, the NFL continues to pursue a complete understanding of the facts. Now, maybe so, Ailsa, but this looks bad. And it looks like there wasn't enough urgency on the NFL's part to interview the two main people involved.

CHANG: Right.

GOLDMAN: I mean, this happened nearly 10 months ago. If the NFL wants us to believe it takes the issue of domestic violence seriously, wouldn't you think it would do all it can up front, get on top of the issue, interview the principal people involved, go to whatever lengths it can to...

CHANG: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: ...Get ahold of a video if it exists. The League says it tried but wasn't unable to. So it's left with an awkward situation again.

CHANG: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Thanks, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.