In a stunning turn of events Friday, the Kansas City Chiefs released Kareem Hunt, abruptly cutting ties with the star running back hours after a video surfaced showing him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in February.
The first-place Chiefs made the move shortly after the NFL announced that Hunt, who led the league in rushing last season, had been placed on the commissioner’s exempt list — essentially paid leave — pending an investigation of the incident.
“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt,” the team said in a statement. “At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”
The encounter was captured on surveillance video at The Metropolitan at the 9, where Hunt, an Ohio native, had an apartment. It showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a hallway skirmish involving multiple people. Police were called but no arrests were made. Although several media outlets reported on the incident months ago, the situation took on new urgency when TMZ released the video footage Friday.
According to the NFL, neither the Chiefs nor the league had viewed the video before it became public.
The video shows Hunt coming out of a room while talking to a woman off camera. She walked up to Hunt, who pushed her back, and she struck him in the face. Another man came out of the room and attempted to intervene as Hunt lunged at the woman.
Hunt had to be restrained again as more people spilled into the hallway. The video appears to show him giving a hard shove to a man that knocked over both the man and the woman. At the end of the video, Hunt kicked the woman as she was on the ground.
The situation is reminiscent of the 2014 assault involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was captured in an elevator surveillance video punching and knocking out his then-fiancée. That was also a video obtained by TMZ and shook the NFL to its core, causing the league to reorganize its executive structure and treat incidents of domestic violence far more seriously.
But this has been a bad two weeks for the NFL, with Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, who faced a felony child abuse charge in 2014, admitting to a reporter that he still uses a belt to punish his children; and the Redskins claiming Reuben Foster off waivers after the linebacker was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and released two days later by San Francisco.
Hunthad seven rushing and seven receiving touchdowns for the Chiefs this season, and was an offensive centerpiece for a 9-2 team that has the AFC’s best record.
Hunt was involved in another incident in June when he allegedly punched a man in the face at an Ohio resort.
During training camp, Hunt was asked about that by reporters.
“Just be in the right place at the right time,” he said at the time, according to the Kansas City Star. “I’m going to keep thinking about football and go out there and do my job.”