The NFL's relaunched investigation into Kareem Hunt's physical altercation with a woman from earlier this year, in the wake of , will take several weeks at least to complete, league sources said, with a lengthy suspension to follow. The running back, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017, is expected to play in the NFL again, however, and some executives believe he might even be claimed on waivers this week.
Hunt, who faced no charges for his actions, was seen pushing a female acquaintance and apparently kicking her as well in the video, which the NFL and Chiefs say they had not seen prior to its release by TMZ Sports on Friday afternoon. The Chiefs , after he was placed by the league on the Commissioner's Exempt List. League sources said that Hunt will remain on that list whether he is claimed on waivers or not, as the NFL doubles back its attempt to secure more information about the incident that took place in a Cleveland hotel room back in February before finalizing discipline for his actions.
Hunt emerged as one of the most impactful running backs in football and, at 23 on a very cheap rookie contract, there was a consensus in conversations with NFL team executives that they believe Hunt will be playing again in 2019, whenever his suspension ends. "Should he play again -- no," as one NFL decision-maker put it. "But will he? It's quite possible. I would definitely expect it."
League sources said the NFL will conduct a formal interview with Hunt as part of the next phase of its probe. Hunt was contacted by NFL security following the police report, a league source said, but he was not questioned by commissioner Roger Goodell or other high ranking officials. The Chiefs, in their statement on the release of Hunt, stated that the running back lied to them about his actions on the night in question. The NFL says it was unable to secure the video in question through the Cleveland Police Department or the hotel itself, and was only privy to body-cam video once officers responded to the 911 call.
The NFL will also be reaching back out to the alleged victim and other witnesses to the incident; a league source said they received little prior cooperation. The NFL will also study a frame-by-frame sequencing of the video and try to work further with Cleveland Police to see if any further action in this incident is forthcoming. The league is generally very laborious and judicious with how it pursues such issues, and numerous sources said they did not foresee any circumstances where Hunt was eligible to play again this season. A ruling on his future discipline likely would not come until sometime in 2019.
Per the NFL's revamped personal conduct policy regarding acts of violence against women, following video of Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee, now wife, a first-time domestic violence offense would carry a six-game suspension. However, that may not preclude a team from claiming Hunt in order to have the contractual rights to him, still signed to his rookie contract, whenever he is able to play again. If a team claimed Hunt while he was on the exempt list, it would still be required to pay his weekly salary even though he cannot practice or play.