- Hunt’s exclusive interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters—which included an apology—did nothing to change anyone’s minds about the incident as a whole.
What could he have said at this point in time to make you feel better about the whole thing?
What could Kareem Hunt’s featured interview on Sunday revealed about that night in February, when security camera footage showed him barreling over a woman and kicking her on the ground in a Cleveland hotel, that would change your mind one way or the other? What perspective could Hunt have possibly gained since he was released by the Chiefs less than 48 hours ago, when he coasted through an entire season without feeling the need to come clean about what had actually happened that night?
ESPN’s Lisa Salters handled the close-range sit down with the appropriate tact. The network aired it live to prevent the feel of a coddled, redemptive sit down where everything from the outfit to the lighting was arranged by a public relations team looking to soften the blow. Hunt was pressed on a few of the details that he apparently did not feel were important to share with the Chiefs until the security camera footage was obtained by TMZ. Others, like what provoked his attack in the first place, or whether we can truly believe this isn’t a pattern as the NFL investigates a second violent incident from June, went unasked or unanswered.
It was, in the Golden Age of half-truths, situational ignorance and horrid moral equivalencies, maybe the best we could have hoped for. And yet, the whole thing just left us feeling worse.
“I just want to let the world know how sorry I am for my actions,” Hunt said. “It’s been a tough time for me. And I’m extremely embarrassed because of that video.”
It feels worse because you’re left wondering who, besides Hunt, thought this was a good idea so soon. He began the interview by tactically noting that he was raised by two women—his mom and his grandmother—and ended the interview by angling for another shot in the NFL while also mentioning that he’s “I’ve had really close women that are friends.” It is the standard, microwavable excuse for anyone that has not had the appropriate time to consider the gravity of their situation.
It feels worse because it confirms that the NFL handled this with the investigatory vigor of Chief Wiggum’s police department. A snippet from the conversation:
Has the NFL ever questioned you about that incident?
No they have not.
Did they ever ask you to talk about that incident?
No they have not.
It feels worse because Hunt seems to have shown more contrition toward the Chiefs and the NFL than the woman in the video, who Hunt says, he has not spoken with since the night in question. He said he has no way of knowing who she was or how to get in contact with her (Cleveland.com has plenty of details from the initial police report, including the woman’s name and the town she lives in).
“I feel like I let the Chiefs down, my family down, those players down, and those are really like my brothers,” Hunt said.
He added: “I just regret not getting it all out there. I regret, I just regret my decision that I made that night. It was just a big, big mistake by me.”
Hunt said that he said he has “for sure, definitely” sought counseling since the issue and that he’s going to “keep talking to my people about getting that arranged and set up.” That feels bad, too, because it sounds like Hunt did not feel the need to get help after it happened but may be doing so now, after the release of the video. And if he has been seeing someone, as some reports have suggested, is it fair to wonder what kind of results the counseling has yielded so far?
After all of this, what did we learn? If you watched the Hunt interview preparing to tee off on the league for not trying hard enough, for Hunt seeming to only feel bad about getting caught, for the moral high ground that comes with hearing someone else say “I realized what I did once I saw the video,” than the 10-minute piece provided everything you could have wanted.
Maybe I’ll just join those who are simply shaking their heads. Just last week, a player who may have also abused an ex-girlfriend but was not caught on video, was claimed by Washington, which defended the move by saying something to the effect of “Well, people in high places have done worse, and compared to that, this is small potatoes.” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once called Greg Hardy a ‘real leader.’ He signed the defensive end after horrific allegations arose, in part, because there was no video evidence forcing him not to. Hunt’s teammate, Tyreek Hill “put [his girlfriend] in a headlock that put ‘external pressure on her neck that compressed her airway’ while in college but was drafted anyway. Because it did not happen in college, the league maintains an arm’s length, just like they did with Joe Mixon, who was selected in the second-round by the Bengals.
I learned that that leagues, teams and people will continue to relentlessly barrel toward their individual goals, only getting derailed when unshakable video evidence surfaces to bother enough people and slow them down. Even then, we’ll wonder how soon they get a second chance, and whether or not they’re truly sorry.