Kareem Hunt Is Cut by the Chiefs After a Video Showed Him Attacking a Woman
The Kansas City Chiefs cut their star running back, Kareem Hunt, on Friday, shortly after the N.F.L. suspended him in response to the release of a video that showed Hunt knocking a woman down and kicking her at a hotel in February.
Hunt is one of the most prominent players on a contending team to lose his job in the middle of a season because of an incident involving domestic violence.
The video was recorded at the Metropolitan at the 9 hotel, in downtown Cleveland, where Hunt has an apartment. The police were called after the February incident, but no arrests were made and no charges were filed.
But the graphic video’s release on Friday forced the hands of the league and the team, both of which had been unable to get the footage as part of their investigation, according to Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the N.F.L.
That a celebrity website, TMZ, was able to obtain a copy of the video is bound to raise new questions about whether the league is doing enough to hold players accountable for their behavior off the field.
The league, in a statement Friday evening, said it had placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would forbid him to play, practice or attend games but would let him be paid. Then the team cut Hunt.
The N.F.L. statement said the league’s investigation would now include “a review of the new information that was made public today.”
McCarthy said the hotel told the N.F.L. that it would provide the video only to law enforcement. He said that the Cleveland Police Department did not give the video to the league, and that officials had tried unsuccessfully to contact the woman who was knocked down.
The Chiefs, in a statement, said that several members of their management team had spoken directly with Hunt after the team learned of the incident in February. “Kareem was not truthful in those discussions,” the team statement said. “The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”
Hunt apologized in a statement to ESPN. “I deeply regret what I did,” he said. “I hope to move on from this.”
The case has joined a litany of questionable, and sometimes violent, off-season incidents involving N.F.L. players.
The league took no disciplinary action after the incident involving Hunt, 23, first came to light in February, and he has been one of the most dynamic players this season on the Chiefs, who are 9-2 and in first place in the A.F.C. West.
The video shows Hunt pushing a woman and being restrained by several men. Hunt then breaks free. The ensuing tumult sends the woman reeling, hitting a wall and falling to the ground, where Hunt kicks her.
One police report obtained by The Kansas City Star said a 19-year old woman from Ohio claimed she was “shoved and pushed” by Hunt, who was listed as a suspect. The Star reported that a second police report named the woman as a suspect.
He has had other outbursts. In June, he punched a man in the face at a resort in Ohio, according to a separate report by TMZ, but no charges were filed.
Clark Hunt, the team’s owner, said in the off-season that he was hopeful that the player had learned from his past. “I’m sure he learned some lessons this off-season and hopefully won’t be in those kinds of situations in the future,” he said.
The accusations against Kareem Hunt are a fresh reminder of the N.F.L.’s conflicted approach to players accused of assault and domestic abuse. The league has vowed to take a hard line on cases of domestic abuse since 2014, when the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was seen on video knocking out a woman who was his fiancée.
The league had suspended Rice for two games when the incident was first reported, but weeks later, when more graphic video was released, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely. A former federal judge brought in to adjudicate the matter overruled the permanent suspension because Rice was effectively being suspended twice for the same infraction.
Rice, though, never returned to the N.F.L.
After that controversy, the league introduced several new policies that included stiffer penalties for players found to have committed domestic abuse, less reliance on law enforcement for guidance and a more robust investigative team at the N.F.L.
Still, the response to incidents has been uneven. In 2016, the league suspended Josh Brown, a Giants kicker, for one game because it believed he had committed only one act of violence against his wife.
The league later suspended him indefinitely with pay after police documents showed Brown wrote about being “physically, verbally and emotionally” abusive to his wife.
This week, the Washington Redskins were widely criticized for claiming linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers. Foster, 24, had been released by the San Francisco 49ers days after he was arrested in Tampa, Fla., on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
The league suspended Foster indefinitely with pay, but the Redskins signed him anyway, though it is unlikely he will play this season. “The Redskins fully understand the severity of the recent allegations made against Reuben,” Doug Williams, the senior vice president for player personnel, said in a statement. “If true, you can be sure these allegations are nothing our organization would ever condone.”
While the Redskins were willing to await judgment on Foster, some former N.F.L. players were quick to condemn Kareem Hunt. “I thought I was a perfect example of what NOT to do!!!!” the former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, who was convicted of domestic violence, said on Twitter. “I thought by speaking aloud about my pitfalls that players after me could see these situations before they happen.”
Ray Crockett, a retired defensive back who played a part of his career for Kansas City, lashed out at the league.
“NFL, this is a bad look for the League!” he wrote on Twitter. “You cant just act like you are against domestic violence. You have to be about it. Kareem Hunt has to be suspended.”
Within hours of that message, the league and the Chiefs acted to keep Hunt off the field.