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I’m sick of it all.
The excuses. The apologies. The fake outrage.
Most of all, though, I’m sick of the hypocrisy.
From the NFL. From team executives. From a large swath of fans.
Four years have passed since the infamous Ray Rice video, and we have learned nothing.
We are no better. And, sadly, neither is the league.
The events of the past week — the Washington Redskins’ imprudent decision to claim Reuben Foster three days after he was arrested on a domestic-violence charge and the Kansas City Chiefs’ dismissal of Kareem Hunt nine months after he shoved and kicked a woman — were proof of a larger, more insidious disease that has taken root in the way the NFL conducts its business.
It’s a mixture of apathy, indifference and willful ignorance. It’s the unique ability to give the appearance of being the great arbitrator of all, yet consistently falling short of expectations unless moved to action because of public outrage.
… Or in the case of Rice and Hunt, a video.
The same league that tortured us with its never-ending pursuit of the deflate-gate details — including hiring a slew of attorneys, conducting interviews with dozens of people, and a 139-page report — had produced nothing in its investigation of the Hunt incident since it began in February.
Hunt had chances to come clean. To show contrition. To prove to himself and his team that, “I’m definitely not that type of person,” as he told ESPN’s Lisa Salters on Sunday. But he lied. And the Chiefs were more than content to take him at his word, to champion him as their top-flight running back, despite knowledge of Hunt also being accused of punching a man in Ohio in June.
Until the TMZ video surfaced on Friday, neither the NFL nor Chiefs had gotten any clarity on the true events of that night, when Hunt pushed and kicked a woman he didn’t know.
Worse, the NFL reportedly told the Chiefs not to pursue the video in question while its own investigation was ongoing. Yet, the league somehow couldn’t obtain a copy of the video on its own.
No, the NFL isn’t law enforcement. But the league already has shown that it can and will dole out punishment regardless of whether charges are filed.
The same league that initially handed out a one-game suspension to kicker Josh Brown and suspended Ezekiel Elliott six games (despite no charges being filed), revamped its personal conduct policy after its admitted mishandling of the incidents involving Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson.
But make no mistake: Had there been no video of Hunt — procured through TMZ’s financial means and motivations — the dynamic running back would still be on the Chiefs’ roster and Kansas City would have no issues with Hunt representing it on the field, despite reports that he punched a man four months after he kicked a woman.
And the NFL, of course, would not have been pressed to investigate the matter further.
The league’s conscience gets outweighed by its business interests. And the self-interests of teams and their fans often override concerns over larger societal issues.
The Redskins did the one thing no other team could: Rush to put in a claim for Foster because the risk was “small potatoes” compared to the reward of adding a playmaker on defense. And, still, there were Redskins fans applauding the stunning move.
Days later, irate fans in Kansas City and elsewhere flooded social media to rip the Chiefs and TMZ. Why? Because losing Hunt would wreak havoc on their postseason and fantasy football hopes.
I’m sick of people acting like they care about domestic violence.
I’m sick of pretending the NFL is committed to uncovering the truth at all times, in all cases.
I’m sick of praising teams for doing the “right thing” when they are left with no choice but to act.
I’m sick of the same NFL owners who have kept Colin Kaepernick out of the league and grumbled about kneeling players affecting their bottom line, finding ways to rationalize signing players who have put their hands on women.
I’m sick of reminding men that domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue.
I’m sick of reminding men that you don’t need to have daughters, or wives, or sisters to realize that minimizing physical violence against women is detestable.
I’m sick of assuming the league will challenge itself to be better.
I’m tired of hoping that teams won’t only be driven to win at all cost.
Hardy should have been radioactive. But thanks to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he was given more chances. Foster should have been as well. But the San Francisco 49ers ignored troubling signs and drafted him anyway, and the Redskins were more than happy to take a chance.
One would think Tyreek Hill would have been avoided at all cost, too. But the same Chiefs who were lauded for their “swift” release of Hunt on Friday, drafted Hill while he was on probation for a domestic-violence charge.
Had there been a video of Hill putting his pregnant girlfriend (now fiancee) in a headlock, punching her in the stomach and choking her, believe me, he’d be nowhere near Arrowhead Stadium. And therein lies the problem.
We should not have needed visual evidence of Rice cold-cocking his fiancee Janay and dragging her motionless body out of an elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
But the Ravens did. So did the NFL.
We shouldn’t have needed video of Hunt kicking a woman for the Chiefs and the league to be spurred to action.
Where’s the honor in doing the right thing only when the world is watching?
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