The NFL didn’t talk to former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt prior to last Friday’s release of an incriminating video. Unless it did.
It became firmly established on Sunday that the NFL did not interview Hunt regarding a February incident at a Cleveland hotel before TMZ published video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman there. Now, Kevin Draper and Ken Belson of the New York Times report that the NFL had questioned Hunt about a June incident, during which Hunt allegedly punched a man in the face at an Ohio resort.
The NFL’s position has been that it waited to speak to Hunt about the February incident because it wanted to wait until other evidence had been developed. But the investigation had been at a standstill; absent the sudden emergence of the video, the case would have remained in limbo indefinitely.
The approach makes sense, generally speaking. Investigations typically involve gathering all proof before interviewing the accused, so that the interview of the accused is as meaningful as it can be. However,the Personal Conduct Policy and the Collective Bargaining Agreement contain no apparent clause that limits the league to one bite at the apple.
Thus, the NFL apparently could have interviewed Hunt based on the evidence preliminarily available, kept the investigation open pending future developments, and reserved the right to speak to him again. And again. And again.
Indeed, why not lock the accused in to a story early, before anyone knows what the evidence is? Then, if/when the evidence conflicts with the initial version, the accused can be twisted in knots and the league will know that the first story was not the truth.
The league’s handling of the situation further underscores the flaws with its overall investigative procedures, fueling the existing chatter among some owners that the NFL should get out of the investigation business completely and entirely.