DALLAS — The NFL isn’t getting out of the investigations business.
Despite intense criticism regarding the league’s handling of Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt’s involvement in a violent incident in Cleveland last February, the NFL will not back off from the program instituted in 2014 after Ray Rice’s assault of his then fiancée.
“The ownership commitment to what occurred in 2014 is not going to back off,” NFL special counsel for conduct Todd Jones told reporters Wednesday at the NFL’s annual December meeting.
Hunt was released by the Chiefs shortly after TMZ posted a video showing him shoving and kicking a woman during an altercation at a Cleveland hotel on Feb. 10. The video, posted on Nov. 30, was not obtained by the NFL, which does not pay for such evidence. The league and police were prohibited by hotel management from seeing the video.
“We don’t pay for video evidence,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “That’s not appropriate for a league or organization to do that.”
“To become mercenary and pay for videos opens up a Pandora’s box of all kinds of opportunities and things that may come to use from not just surveillance video in public places or surveillance video in residences,” Jones said. “But you’re talking about the world of social media and everybody on a smart phone, as TMZ’s in the business of doing, is buying people’s smart phone snippets for a fee, and the NFL’s not going there.”
Jones said the investigation into Hunt’s actions remains open, and the league likely will interview him in the coming weeks, although Jones suggested that the approval of the players’ union will be required for such an interview to take place.
“The investigation involving Mr. Hunt is open, and there are multiple investigations open, and we’re not going to say anything about it, because he is in essence a free agent with a disciplinary matter under consideration,” Jones said.
Jones added that linebacker Reuben Foster, who was arrested last month on a domestic violence charge in Tampa and released by the 49ers, remains under investigation by the league. Foster was claimed on waivers by the Redskins but was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and is prohibited from playing.
Notes & quotes: The 2020 NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas, the league announced Wednesday. The Raiders will begin play in Las Vegas later that year … Competition committee chairman Rich McKay said the league is still adapting to a new rule prohibiting players from using their helmets to initiate contact. Although only 15 penalties have been called for the infraction, more than 100 warning letters have been sent to players who haven’t conformed to the rule … Raiders owner Mark Davis said he will consider several locations for the team to play its 2019 games. After the City of Oakland this week announced a lawsuit against the team for relocating to Las Vegas, the Raiders said they have withdrawn an offer to pay $7.5 million in rent at the Oakland Coliseum for 2019. Among the potential sites being considered: San Diego, the former home of the Chargers, and Santa Clara, where the 49ers play at Levi’s Stadium … The league announced enhancements to the Rooney Rule, which is aimed to increase hiring opportunities for diverse candidates, particularly at the head coaching and general manager positions. Under the new guidelines, clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate not employed by the team, or from a list provided by the Career Development Advisory Panel . . . Giants president and co-owner John Mara declined to discuss any issues involving the team, including its plans for Eli Manning next season . . . Jets CEO Christopher Johnson declined to address any issues affecting the team, including the future of coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan.