The Kansas City Chiefs fired star running back Kareem Hunt on Friday night after TMZ published a closed-captioned video earlier in the day of an offseason assault against a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February.
The team said he “was not truthful” with the team earlier this year and the video, which shows Hunt pushing and kicking a woman, “confirms that fact.” The woman never filed charges in his home state of Ohio, and she is seen explaining her side to the police in a related video. The Chiefs previously stated that they addressed the issue and didn’t anticipate any punishment from the NFL.
Following the release of the video, but prior to the Chiefs' decision, the NFL placed Hunt on the commissioner exempt list, meaning he could not “practice, play or attend games." That includes Sunday’s game at the Oakland Raiders, when the Chiefs could clinch a playoff spot.
Domestic violence became a sensitive issue in Kansas City in 2012, Jovan Belcher killed himself after fatally shooting his girlfriend. And Tyreek Hill’s selection in the 2016 draft sparked an outcry because when he was playing for Oklahoma State, he'd punched his then-girlfriend (now fiancée) when she was pregnant. Hill, who is quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ No. 1 target, had that 2015 conviction expunged after completing probation this year.
As a rookie last year drafted in the third round from the University of Toledo, Hunt made an immediate impact in the season-opening 42-27 win at New England with 148 yards rushing. Hunt wound up leading the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards last season, and was on pace to surpass that this season.
The video came out the same day that Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, who’d served a 40-game suspension, publicly apologized for abuse detailed by his ex-wife months ago and that the team offered to keep him.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.