Will Chiefs star Kareem Hunt ever play in NFL again? It’s the question we shouldn’t be asking
The question that popped up on social media Friday night was sarcastic, but rooted in reality:
How long would it be before Washington would sign former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt? When a team decides that it’s perfectly fine to bring in one player who allegedly hit a woman, what would stop it from signing another in the same week?
The question is rhetorical. (We hope.) Hunt, the 23-year-old, second-year running back who has been instrumental in the Chiefs’ success this season, is now out of the league. He was put on the commissioner’s exempt list and released by the Chiefs just hours after TMZ published video of him shoving and kicking a woman in February.
This of course was the right thing to do. Just as Ray Rice lost his job four years ago when video of his punch was made public, so too did Hunt lose his job Friday night. One would hope that written details of what these men did would be enough to fire them. But that has not been the case. Seeing it on video was what made it real, and awful. The video sealed the deal.
Rice, who was 27 at the time, never played another down in the NFL.
Will that be Hunt’s fate as well?
Right now, that sounds right. That video is so appalling that the last thing we should be wondering is if Hunt will play in the NFL again. This is a troubled young man who needs to deal with what he did in that hotel in Cleveland, not worry about his next NFL rushing attempt.
Will there be an opening for him to return to the league someday? Perhaps. But for that to happen, once Hunt deals with the ramifications of his behavior captured on that video, he then should begin to follow in the footsteps of none other than Rice.
In the four years since he hit his then-fiancé, now his wife, Janay Palmer Rice, in that elevator, Rice has devoted his life to making amends for his dreadful behavior. He has made numerous speaking appearances in front of high schools, colleges and other groups, trying to prevent young men from doing what he did.
“I just think there’s so much more to learn from my situation,” Rice told me in a phone interview last year. “My story is a real story. Part of life’s journey is just being able to tell my story now. A lot of men think, it can’t happen to me. Well, I had a clean slate and it all came down to a terrible split-second decision. I want these guys to learn from it. I want them to be better for it. I want them to be better men. I’m fortunate enough to be in contact with the league and I’m thankful for the opportunity to tell it.”
If Hunt can someday say words like those, and back them up with service to his community in the hopes of eradicating domestic violence, then and only then should there be the possibility of a place for him again in the NFL.
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