Chiefs Kingdom: Family or Foe?

The Kansas City Chiefs and their fans like to talk about how they are a Chiefs Kingdom while welcoming new players into the Chiefs family. Just hope you don’t run into trouble or become the black sheep of the family that needs help. If you do find yourself in this predicament you’ll find yourself on the unemployment line, but not for long as another team will swoop right into to pick you up. This is just one aspect of where the problem lies as we delve into words vs. actions from the NFL and their franchises.

Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill

On November 30th, 2018 the Kansas City Chiefs, amid the release of a TMZ video showing Kareem Hunt in an altercation with a woman in a hotel, released their star running back. Kareem had lied to the Chiefs about what had occurred and had shown his issues ran deeper than what the organization was led to believe. On February 11th, 2019, 2 months and change after the Chiefs released him, the Cleveland Browns signed Kareem Hunt without much push back or national media outrage. Instead of letting the NFL investigation and due process run its course, the Chiefs impulsively released Kareem to stand on some imaginary moral high ground. In doing so, they not only lose out on a top player at the position who will eventually just sign with another team, but I think more importantly they lose out on making the words “Chiefs family” truly mean something.

The Chiefs releasing Kareem Hunt was an impulse reaction by fans and the organization without thinking about the outcome, which seems to be the same problem these players have had. The Chiefs had a chance to let the investigation and due process take its coarse while helping and supporting their player and allowing them to come back on the field when they felt they were ready. If Chiefs Kingdom is a family, when did it become okay for you to kick a family member out after a mistake, even a big mistake? You don’t throw them out on the street and say best of luck, but you’re not our problem anymore. These are players the Chiefs drafted and said those words, “Welcome to the Chiefs family!” Are those just hollow meaningless words? The Chiefs made a mistake with Kareem Hunt, plain and simple, but they have the chance to do the right thing with Tyreek Hill.

The local and national media as well as the fans cannot believe Tyreek Hill is still a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, but we don’t hear anymore outrage on Kareem Hunt, Adrian Peterson, or Ezekiel Elliott. Why is it the Chiefs have to impulsively make a decision on Tyreek Hill when these other teams are free to pick these players up after the fact without any repercussion? We have no idea, even after the audio, if Tyreek Hill is guilty of what he’s being accused of. It does however seem pretty clear that his relationship is toxic and neither him or his fiancé Crystal are presently fit to be parents. The Chiefs are doing the right thing by banning Tyreek from all team activities, but if they cut him before the NFL investigation and due process have concluded, it would be a mistake. The only way Tyreek should no longer be on the Chiefs is if he is found guilty and banned for life from the National Football League. Other than that, the Chiefs should retain his rights while keeping him away from the team, but getting him the help and support that he and his fiancé need to become better parents and human beings. Isn’t that what family is truly about? Being there in the hard times as well as the good and providing all the help you can to see your family member get back on the right track and succeed.

Systemic Problem in the NFL

Let’s take a look at some of the worst violators of the NFL’s personal conduct policy and what has happened to them. 

May 15, 2007Entire 2007 seasonAdam JonesCBTennessee TitansAttacking a stripper and threatening a security guard’s life
July 27, 2007Indefinite
(reinstated in July 2009)[46]
Michael VickQBAtlanta FalconsInvolvement in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting scandal
August 13, 2009Entire 2009 seasonDonté StallworthWRCleveland BrownsCrashed into and killed a pedestrian while DUI[63]
September 23, 2009Until release from prison in 2011Plaxico BurressWRFree agentAforementioned accidental shooting
April 21, 20106 games
(later reduced to 4 games)
Ben RoethlisbergerQBPittsburgh SteelersViolation of the league’s personal conduct policy
September 8, 2014Indefinite[e] (appealed and overturned two months later)[107]Ray RiceRBBaltimore RavensViolation of the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from a domestic violence incident
November 18, 2014Indefinite
(reinstated in Feb. 2015)[113]
Adrian PetersonRBMinnesota VikingsViolation of the league’s personal conduct policy
April 22, 201510 games
(later reduced to 4 games)[121]
Greg HardyDEDallas CowboysViolation of the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from a domestic abuse charge

Micheal Vick came back to the league after a 2 year prison sentence. Ray Rice got his suspension overturned after 2 months. Adrian Peterson only sat out a few months as well for beating his child with a belt, which was proven unlike Tyreek’s has been proven to this point. Then there is former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt who the Chiefs never should have cut, but did because of the immediate reaction and fan outcry to cut him after seeing the video. Now, the Cleveland Browns get to reap the benefits of a top 5 running back in the league and this is what Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens had to say about Kareem yesterday. 

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens gave an update on Hunt during the draft, saying Hunt is “exceeding expectations.” “He is doing great,” Kitchens said. “He is doing everything we are asking him to do. Exceeding expectations from the standpoint of how he is in the building, how he is around the players and how he is on the field. I have never been around him until now, but that’s what I see and that’s what we have gotten. He is doing things in the community. He is continuing to work on an everyday basis, and he is not taking any days off from the standpoint of becoming a better person, a better player, and I think everybody is going to see the benefits of that.”– Cleveland Browns Head Coach, Freddie Kitchens 

Why should the team that these things happen to be pressured to immediately release a player instead of banning them from the team while waiting for the entire process to play out? The Chiefs overreacted and impulsively and preemptively cut Kareem Hunt, now they are paying for it as he is only suspended 8 games. Nobody is burying the Browns for employing Kareem Hunt, yet they are praising the pick up and the addition he will be for them when he comes back. Meanwhile, pundits turn up their noses and cast their judgmental stones from their ivory towers down upon the Chiefs for still employing Tyreek Hill. This is an NFL problem and making it solely a Chiefs problem is extremely shortsighted. Where is their outrage over Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Adrian Peterson, etc.? These things, as awful and disgusting as they are, at some point become yesterday’s news in the NFL.

This whole domestic violence issue and personal conduct policy is a systemic issue and problem of the NFL. If the Chiefs are to turn away from their best players due to fan and media scrutiny, then other teams shouldn’t be allowed to pick them up, take the suspension and be on their merry way. The NFL either needs much harsher penalties or take it out of the individual franchises hands and not allow these players to be cut. My suggestion would be to have the players go on the commissioners exempt list, as they do, but the player is then in a holding pattern until due process has concluded and the NFL hands down his suspension. Then the team would get the rights to the player back, months later, when immediate fan outrage has died down and the team can then make a decision on what to do with the player. If “Welcome to the Chiefs family” means cutting Tyreek Hill and being glad he’s not your problem anymore, then I suggest you lookup some more definitions of the word family!

Avatar of Noah Gronniger
Noah, a sports fan since 1992, began his journey into sports media in 2012. He is co-founder of the Great American Sports Network as well as a podcast host, filmmaker and freelance writer.

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