The NFL has failed to address domestic violence

Back to Article
Back to Article

The NFL has failed to address domestic violence

Kareem Hunt (#27) and Reuben Foster(#56) facing each other before a play during Week 3 of the NFL season (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers website).

Kareem Hunt (#27) and Reuben Foster(#56) facing each other before a play during Week 3 of the NFL season (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers website).

Kareem Hunt (#27) and Reuben Foster(#56) facing each other before a play during Week 3 of the NFL season (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers website).

Kareem Hunt (#27) and Reuben Foster(#56) facing each other before a play during Week 3 of the NFL season (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers website).

Dylan Riggs, Managing Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The NFL has a problem. Every season more and more players are charged with domestic violence or assault.

In fact, 38 players have been arrested for domestic violence, assault, or battery since the start of 2015 according to USA Today. With Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt, two of what were some of the best young players in the league, one can add more players to the list of those with charges. The problem doesn’t end there, however, the problem lies with what is done with these players after the fact.

Foster has a history of these sort of problems. At the NFL Combine in 2017, Foster was sent home after getting into an altercation with a hospital worker after he also failed a drug test after submitting a diluted sample. In January of 2018, Foster was arrested on a second-degree marijuana charge. One month later, Foster was arrested and charged with inflicting great bodily harm, forcefully preventing a victim from reporting a crime, and having possession of an assault weapon. There was a chance Foster would face up to 11 years in prison for these charges.

The charges were dropped a few months later when Foster’s victim (his girlfriend Elissa Ennis) stated that she lied about her former accusation in attempt to gain money from the charges. It should be noted that she went to jail in 2011 after falsely accusing her ex-boyfriend of domestic violence as well.

Foster would be suspended two games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. All was fine for a few months until Nov. 24, when Foster was arrested yet again for domestic violence with Ennis once again being the accuser. Foster reportedly slapped a phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest, then slapped her in the face with an open hand.

According to Ennis, a 49ers official tried to defend Foster when talking to the police, potentially trying to let him off with a warning by telling the police that Ennis had lied to police before in attempt to persuade them that she may be lying again. This is a bad look for the team if true, as defending a violent attack by a player and trying to get the police to look the other way is not something that would ever gain respect by the public. Foster was released by the San Francisco 49ers the next day.

Surprisingly, Foster did not clear waivers, as the Washington Redskins placed a claim on him. Many fans were shocked. One would think a player with the history of Foster would not be given an immediate second chance without going through intense treatment.. However, Foster is not allowed to play as he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. The Redskins vice president of player personnel Doug Williams stated, “The Redskins fully understand the severity of the recent allegations made against Reuben. If true, you can be sure these allegations are nothing our organization would ever condone.”

Ennis was asked about what happened on Good Morning America, where she stated that she had lied when she told authorities that she had made up her previous allegations. Ennis said, “I did what I had to do for the person I love. I thought that he would change.”

According to Bleacher Report, Ennis would also go on to say that Foster had assaulted her three times previously. She has begun to go to therapy after the most recent arrest and has begun to understand the toxic relationship she was in. Foster is currently awaiting a resolution in his investigation by the NFL.

Kareem Hunt did not have the same exact fate as Foster, however. In February, police responded to a complaint involving Hunt at a hotel in Cleveland. No charges were filed however but both Hunt and 19 year old Abigail Ottinger were named suspects, as both parties had different stories as recounted by SBNation.

Hunt and the friends he was with at the time stated that they kicked Ottinger and her friend out of Hunt’s apartment because they were drinking underage. Meanwhile, Ottinger stated that they were kicked out because she “didn’t want” one of the men in Hunt’s group. Ottinger reportedly called Hunt and his friends racial slurs as they left the apartment.

However, after being kicked out, Ottinger became very dramatic according to her friend and then proceeded to bang on Hunt’s door and scream for thirty minutes.

After this, Ottinger says that Hunt opened the door to his apartment and pushed her to the ground.

Meanwhile, Hunt says that he asked Ottinger and her friend to leave and then went to bed. He called security a little while later when he could still hear the girls outside his room. Security arrived and police were called in order to handle the disruption.

This is what was said in February. On November 30, TMZ released a video from the hotel footage, where Hunt is seen shoving Ottinger and kicking her while she is on the ground.

Hunt has also had a history of violence. In January, he was accused of assault of a man in a Kansas City nightclub along with teammate George Atkinson. No charges were filed an no one was arrested in the case. Hunt also reportedly punched a man at a resort in June.

When investigating incidents such as this, the NFL conducts its own investigation. The NFL says that they began their investigation in February but that none of the victims would cooperate with them when being questioned. The league also did not attempt to contact Hunt about what happened, as they instead used his statement he gave the Kansas City Chiefs, who have stated that Hunt lied to them when they asked him about the occurrences.

The NFL insists that this TMZ video is new evidence in the case, however, they reportedly tried to obtain the video but the hotel would not give it to them as it was against policy. The Kansas City Star reports otherwise, saying that neither the Chiefs or the NFL even asked for the video.

No one knows for sure what punishment will be given to Hunt, as he was put on the Commissioner’s Exempt List as well. Former NFL running back Ray Rice never played another down of football after a video was released of him knocking his fiancée unconscious in an elevator. Current Dallas Cowboy Ezekiel Elliott was handed a six-game suspension last season for reported domestic violence against his girlfriend. The league stated that there was no evidence to prove how the victim’s injuries had occurred. This makes one wonder, is video evidence all that matters to the NFL when investigating these incidents?

Both Hunt and Rice had videos released of their violence, Rice has yet to play another snap and Hunt went unclaimed on waivers after the Chiefs released him. Ezekiel Elliott and Reuben Foster had no video evidence of their crimes and Elliott is currently playing while Foster must wait for his investigation to end and a potential suspension to be handed to him before he plays again, yet was claimed on waivers after his release, unlike Hunt.

In the end, people are stuck wondering what will happen next in the sagas of Hunt and Foster. Will either of them ever play again? Will new evidence come to the forefront of the investigations? The only sure thing is that the NFL has a problem with domestic violence and assault. It must learn how to properly investigate these problems and hand out the punishments fairly.

Video evidence should not be all that determines a players fate. If TMZ had never released the video of Hunt’s encounter, it is likely the league would have completely forgotten the incident and Hunt would still be playing every Sunday with his past hidden from the public eye.