Stop giving chances to domestic abusers

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief

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On Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns announced that they just signed the very recently released Kareem Hunt to join their organization. This is just the most recent example of how hard it is to support the NFL who seems to give domestic violence offenders chance after chance to play football.

The Kansas City Chiefs released Hunt on Nov. 30 of last year after a video surfaced of Hunt pushing and kicking a 19-year-old woman in a hallway. The Chiefs were commended for releasing the 23-year-old runningback because he was not only one of the best players on their team, but he was also an integral part of one of the most high powered offenses in football as they were about to head into the playoffs.

Here we are just three months later and Hunt has already been picked up by another NFL team in less time than it takes for a WNBA player to get back in the league during a pregnancy. It sickens me to see players like Hunt be picked up after a domestic violence offense but keep a player like Colin Kaepernick out of the league just because he kneels for the anthem. This is such a backwards and hurtful practice that keeps the NFL leaps and bounds behind other leagues like the NBA from being a semi-humanitarian league.

Domestic violence offenders are all over the league. Kansas City still has one on their roster in the form of their superstar wide-receiver Tyreek Hill. In December 2014, Hill reportedly punched and choked his pregnant girlfriend. Hill was arrested and charged with domestic assault and battery by strangulation. Hill pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years probation but was still picked up by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Yes, the Chiefs did a great job releasing Hunt from their organization in November, but it makes my skin crawl that they still have Hill on their roster with the significantly worse things that he did to his pregnant girlfriend.

Another example of teams picking up a domestic abuser is the Washington Redskins who signed Reuben Foster on Nov. 27 of last year just days after he was arrested and charged with domestic violence. Foster had been arrested two other times for domestic violence before the final arrest which caused him to be released from the San Francisco 49ers. There was an immediate backlash against the Redskins for picking up Foster but like usual, the NFL is a business and they’ll do what is best for their team to win a championship. The most troubling thing about the Foster signing is that if the Redskins didn’t sign him, another team would have.

In the current climate of the league, I have more faith that a player who is caught on video drop-kicking a woman will be picked up before Kaepernick. I love the NFL and I am probably still going to watch, but I always feel so gross watching players that I know are bad people who have done horrible things to other people thriving and making millions of dollars, while the people they have abused have to live with whatever physical and emotional damage they inflicted upon them.

I certainly believe in second chances. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t be where we are today without given a second chance at one point in our lives but when you’re in a position of such responsibility like NFL players are, I don’t believe they should be given a second chance in the NFL. The cliché of protecting the kids is used far too often but I believe it is most appropriately used in this type of situation. An athlete is one of the top 15 jobs that kids want and they look up to these athletes and when they see that athletes can act so poorly but still be successful, who’s to say they don’t follow their hero’s actions. The NFL has an obligation to show the world what they won’t stand for and domestic violence should be one of their no-tolerance policies.

The current domestic violence policy was put into effect due to the Ray Rice situation that occurred in 2014. Rice was caught on video knocking out his then fiancée in an elevator. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, who was harshly criticized for the light suspension, only suspended Rice for two games. In response, the NFL introduced their new domestic violence policy, which carries a six game suspension after the first domestic violence incident and a supposed lifetime ban after the second offense. This policy has already been proven to be a sham because players like Foster, who have multiple domestic violence charges against him, are still in the league.

I’d like to believe that all it takes is one team to change the situation with domestic abusers in the league, but it takes all 32 teams to really make a change. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening soon.

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