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NFL likely will continue doing own investigations into improper activities, source says

Despite criticism over handling of Kareem Hunt incident, a source says commissioner Roger Goodell “thinks it’s best way to go.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a media

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a media availability in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 31 January 2018. 

DALLAS — NFL owners will convene on Wednesday for their annual December meetings against a backdrop of controversy over the league’s handling of the Kareem Hunt investigation into the former Kansas City running back’s violent incident in February. Despite calls for the league to get out of the business of conducting its own independent investigations into improper activities of players or anyone associated with the NFL, there may not be an appetite to change course.

“I don’t sense that there will be any big changes,” a person familiar with the league’s inner workings said Tuesday. “Are there problems that come up? Yes. But I think [commissioner] Roger Goodell believes that this is the better way to go, to continue doing our own investigations.”

The NFL came under a hail of criticism for its inability to secure a video of Hunt pushing and kicking a woman at a hotel in Cleveland on Feb. 10. Within hours of the video’s release on TMZ on Nov. 30, the Chiefs released Hunt and the NFL placed the second-year running back on its commissioner exempt list, effectively preventing him from playing for the remainder of the season. Hunt was not claimed on waivers and remains unsigned.

The league also was criticized for not interviewing Hunt, who had lied to the Chiefs for not admitting he was involved in the incident. The Cleveland Police Department recently announced an investigation into its own actions over the incident, including why Hunt was not taken into custody and why the NFL was able to secure a police report from the incident despite not filing a freedom of information request until after the video had come out. The investigation determined that a member of the police department provided a copy of the police report to a league investigator.

The Redskins also were criticized for claiming former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster on waivers Nov. 27 just days after he was arrested in Tampa, Florida, on a domestic violence charge. Foster’s former fiancée, who accused him of domestic violence over the spring before recanting her story, was again the victim during an altercation the night before the 49ers faced the Buccaneers. She said in an interview last week that she only recanted last spring to help Foster keep his job with the team. The 49ers announced shortly after Foster’s arrest last month that he would be released.

Several owners have privately expressed concern that the Redskins were sending the wrong message by so quickly moving to acquire a player who is barred from playing because of his history of domestic violence.

Owners will discuss a range of topics, including legalized sports betting and the league’s recently enacted rules loosening its restrictions on casino advertising. There will be an update on international games, the improved television ratings over last season, and coaching and general manager development. Owners also will be briefed about competition committee discussions.

No important votes are expected to be taken.

Salary cap gets hike. NFL team officials were told Wednesday the 2019 salary cap is expected to range between $187 and $191.1 million, up from $177.2 in 2018.

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