“For people to assume that the NFL is not fair — or it’s a man’s club or not committed to (addressing) issues like domestic violence — I don’t feel that way inside this organization.”
“These are sports people; their expertise is very clearly football. They’ve reached out to people with the expertise in matters of domestic violence, sexual assault. … They are committed to seeing that this league is not seen as one that condones, supports or hides domestic violence. They are committed to making sure that is not only not the way it is — but not the way it’s perceived.”
How hollow do the words of former District of Columbia police chief Cathy Lanier, in this February 2017 interview shortly after she was hired as the NFL’s new security boss — seem today in the aftermath of the league’s mishandling of the Kareem Hunt incident?
After its nearly criminal handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, the NFL took steps to change the perception of its players and the league’s attitude toward the abuse of women in 2017 with the hiring of Lanier — a highly-respected figure in law enforcement who just happened to be a woman.
Lanier was supposed to give the league something it sorely lacked: A woman with enough authority to make sure the frat boys were stopped in their tracks.
“That perception is for me to change,” Lanier said. “That’s our job right now — to make the perception change. But perception is very hard to change.”
It is especially when you fail to obtain a video you are aware of that shows one of your star players in a physical altercation with a woman, as now-released Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was seen doing in the hallway of a downtown Cleveland hotel in February.
When a highly decorated former major city police chief hired by the NFL to fix its domestic violence perception problem — and that former police chief is embarrassed by TMZ Sports obtaining and showing the video that the league and the Chiefs were already well aware of — that opportunity to change the perception of women and the NFL is gone.
“I’m hoping this hire means something to young women in terms of fairness and opportunity,” Lanier told the Washington Post.
It certainly has.
It means that when it comes to the beatings of women, the NFL doesn’t treat its problem as seriously as million-dollar probes into overinflated footballs (if there was a video of Tom Brady sticking pins in footballs, you better believe the NFL would have hired the mob to get it).
It means the NFL has, again, let down its supporters, especially the women who constitute an estimated 45 percent of its fan base.
According to Sports Illustrated, the league tried to investigate the allegations after the Hunt incident in February, but the Cleveland hotel that had the video reportedly refused to give it to NFL investigators. And Cleveland police reportedly never obtained it because the charges were considered a misdemeanor — and then Cleveland police never actually filed charges. While the league obtained the 911 call and a body-cam video that showed nothing, it stopped pursuing the video.
That didn’t mean the video went away, or didn’t exist. And the NFL had to know with the video still out there, it would surface at some point. But they didn’t do all they could to obtain it.
TMZ Sports did — the video showing Hunt kicking and shoving a woman, and they showed it to the world.
That’s how the NFL finally saw the Hunt video.
How did TMZ get the video? They reportedly paid for it, as they often do for information. That may be a journalistic no-no, but police departments pay for information all the time. Lanier knows that. There was nothing to stop the NFL from doing the same thing that TMZ did.
The NFL never interviewed Hunt, either. The Chiefs did, and Hunt lied to them. The league went with the team’s word.
Once the Chiefs learned Hunt had lied, they were ready to cut him loose.
But they contacted the league and waited until he was put on the commissioner’s exempt list, so no one would suffer the embarrassment of having a team pick him up on waivers once he was cut — you know, like the Redskins did after the San Francisco 49ers released Reuben Foster.
Quite a week for the NFL and changing the perception that its players have a problem with physical altercations with women.
In another interview with NBC Washington shortly before taking over as NFL security chief, Lanier said she believed the league was committed to doing a better job on these cases.
“I don’t think it’s something that can’t change, and I don’t think it’s something that people are not committed to changing, because I think they are,” she said.
Not as committed as TMZ, apparently.
⦁ You can hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and also on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.
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