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Volume 25 No. 155

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Hunt confirmed that the NFL never reached out to him about the incident that took place
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFL officials made "multiple attempts to obtain the video" showing former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt pushing and shoving a woman during a February incident at a Cleveland hotel but were "denied by the hotel, which indicated that corporate policy dictated that the footage would be made available only to law enforcement," according to a source cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The source also said that NFL investigators "attempted to speak to women involved in the incident but they did not respond to requests to be interviewed" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/1). USA TODAY's A.J. Perez noted as the NFL faced increased criticism for not obtaining the video that led to Hunt's release by the Chiefs, Cleveland Police Sergeant & Public Information Officer Jennifer Ciaccia said that "no one within the department -- even those who responded in the early morning hours on Feb. 10 -- had viewed the video before TMZ posted it Friday" (USATODAY.com, 12/1). Sources said that "neither the NFL nor the Chiefs had viewed the video before it became public" (ESPN.com, 11/30). THE ATHLETIC's Nate Taylor cited sources as saying that the Chiefs "knew video evidence of the altercation existed, but they were told by the NFL to stop pursuing it later in February once the league began its investigation." However, the league "couldn't obtain the video" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/1). One team exec said it is "fair to say that people are wondering why" the NFL had not seen the video and how a league investigation did not uncover it (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3). 

LEAGUE NEVER TALKED TO HUNT: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the NFL "never got a hold of Kareem Hunt and spoke to him" following the incident. The league also "never spoke to the woman involved." Schefter: "It did speak to other witnesses at the scene and were basically told that Kareem Hunt was not a part of this." Hunt during a live interview confirmed the NFL never spoke to him ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 12/2). NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King asks, "Why didn't the NFL, even if it couldn't speak to the woman or see the tape, speak to Hunt?" Even if Hunt "lied to the league, the attempt must be made." The league investigators "might have been able to get more out of him" than coach Andy Reid did. There is "only one word for the league's inaction here: inexcusable" (NBCSPORTS.com, 12/3). THE MMQB's Albert Breer writes he believes the NFL and the Chiefs "made an effort to get to the truth in February and March." But he also believes it is "fair to question the intensity of that effort." There are "at least a few owners who want the NFL to get out of the investigation business entirely, and this shows another reason why: Too often, without subpoena power or other tools available to law enforcement, they're going to wind up looking like the Keystone Kops" (SI.com, 12/3). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton cites a source as saying that the "standard protocol is to interview the player after all the information had been gathered" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote under the header, "Five Key Legal Points Surrounding Kareem Hunt" (SI.com, 11/30).

TIME TO DO MORE TO GET VIDEOS: ESPN's Schefter said the question "continues to be asked" about how TMZ can get videos like this and the one in the Ray Rice case in '14, but the NFL cannot. Schefter: "The best we can tell is that TMZ is willing to pay for this information. You would think that the NFL, it would be valuable enough for the league to do that. But it hasn't" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 12/2). CBS Sports' Amy Trask said, "Historically, teams in the league have not been willing to do what outlets like TMZ have been willing to do to get video. They feel ethically or otherwise constrained. It may be time to re-think that. Not to do anything illegal, but to do more to gather video." CBS' Bill Cowher: "I would like to think the NFL could find a way to get these videos before TMZ does. I think we all would like the league to take a conformed approach to this" ("The NFL Today," CBS, 12/2). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote the NFL is a multi-billion-dollar business that is "far bigger and more powerful than TMZ," so it is "fairly presumed that the league has the ability to get anything that TMZ is able to get." If the NFL "doesn't have the current internal expertise to get videos that TMZ seems to always obtain, maybe the NFL needs to hire someone from TMZ to help the NFL figure out how to get those videos." The league should "always be relentless when it comes to tracking down any and all video of any player incident, since it always should be assumed that the video will inevitably emerge" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/1). THE RINGER's Kevin Clark wrote it has been four years since the Rice case, and TMZ is "apparently still the NFL's best investigator" (THERINGER.com, 12/1).

ALL BARK, NO BITE: In Boston, Ben Volin wrote the NFL "proved once again this past week that it doesn't take violence against women seriously unless there is a video" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/2). SB Nation's Charles McDonald said, "If the video hadn't come out, I'm pretty sure Hunt would be playing (yesterday) in the Chiefs' game against the Oakland Raiders." McDonald: "It's incredible to see (the league) be so reactionary all the time" ("Nightly News," NBC, 12/2). National Network to End Domestic Violence President & CEO Kim Gandy said if it is a "particularly valuable player," teams will "cross their fingers and hope he changes his behavior." Gandy: "Sometimes crossing their fingers works, and sometimes it doesn't" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3). THE RINGER's Claire McNear wrote it "doesn't matter" whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or the people he employs "saw the video." Nor should a video be "necessary to force the league into action." It matters that the NFL "didn't care, and it matters that after so many years of telling us that football will do better and be better, the truth it still clear: It won't" (THERINGER.com, 11/30). In DC, Thom Loverro writes the NFL's failure with the Hunt case means the league has again "let down its supporters, especially the women who constitute an estimated 45 percent of its fan base" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/3). SI.com's Robert Klemko wrote under Goodell and the current owners, the NFL will "always be reactionary, always beholden to public opinion, and seemingly never able to simply assess a crisis and do the right thing" (SI.com, 11/30).

SHOOTING THEMSELVES IN THE FOOT: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote the NFL was "experiencing a dream season," and now here comes its "old foil -- an inability to handle charges of domestic violence." The fact the situation "unfolded as it did is troubling." This is "Ray Rice 2.0, inaction spinning into scandal once the visual comes out." It was "avoidable, a self-inflicted wound in a season going so well" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/30). USA TODAY's Nate Davis writes the NFL's issues at the moment are "completely self-inflicted and utterly regrettable." Nothing like "derailing what had been a feel-good season previously highlighted by bushels of points, resurgent TV ratings and emergent stars" (USATODAY.com, 12/3). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell noted this past week was the "worst week for the NFL" since September '14, when the Rice video was released. The fact that the NFL did not even interview Hunt is "incredibly weak" and "another significant hit to the league's credibility" (USA TODAY, 12/3). 

POTENTIAL FALLOUT? The POST's Maske wrote it "remains to be seen" whether the Hunt and Reuben Foster cases and the NFL's handling of them will "spark outrage among fans and lead any to turn away from the sport." Those in and around the league for now are "left to begin evaluating whether the NFL and its teams learned from the past and handled these cases appropriately." However, one high-ranking team official "expressed support for the league's actions." The official said, "Both players (Foster and Hunt) were placed on leave. What the Redskins did (by adding Foster), that's a team decision. The league has no control over that. I don't know what more could have been done any earlier in the other (Hunt) case" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/1).

Berhalter, who's been with the Crew the last five years, was in negotiations for weeks to take over the USMNT
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. Soccer has hired Crew coach Gregg Berhalter to coach the USMNT, making him the "first to have played for the United States in the World Cup," according to Adam Jardy of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Berhalter, who has been with the Crew the last five years, "has been in negotiations for weeks to take over the team." It is unclear "exactly how many other candidates were interviewed" for the position. Berhalter's brother, Jay, serves as USSF COO (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/3). The AP's Ronald Blum noted Berhalter "represents a generational change for an American team staggered by its failure to reach this year's World Cup after seven straight appearances at soccer's showcase." Berhalter was "long viewed as the front-runner for a job that stayed open for nearly 14 months." The 45-year-old becomes the "second youngest coach for the Americans in four decades," behind Steve Sampson who was 38 when he took the job in '95 (AP, 12/2). In N.Y., Andrew Das noted Berhalter's contract will "carry him through a four-year World Cup cycle." The decision to give Berhalter the job will "do little to appease critics of U.S. Soccer's insider culture" due to Jay Berhalter's job. It also will not move forward the appearance of U.S. Soccer's "outreach efforts to the country's large Hispanic soccer community, which has often felt its contributions -- and its players -- have been marginalized by the federation" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).

RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: In L.A., Kevin Baxter noted Berhalter had been the "top candidate" since USMNT GM Earnie Stewart "began his search for a replacement shortly after assuming his newly created job in August." Stewart "considered 33 candidates and spoke with 11." Stewart's "hope is that Berhalter will bring new ideas to a team in transition." Stewart said early in the process that neither U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro nor CEO & Secretary General Dan Flynn would "interview coaching candidates" (L.A. TIMES, 12/2). In Columbus, Jardy noted the goals Berhalter "has in mind for the program start" with its failure to qualify for the World Cup. Berhalter said, "The first thing is working back from the ultimate goal of participating in the World Cup again. That's first and foremost. Then you bring it back to, I would love when fans turn on the TV they see something that they're proud of. They see a style of play, they see an effort from the group that embodies the American spirit. That would make me most proud." Jardy noted the first thing on the to-do list is "completing plans for the January camp, including the roster." Berhalter said that he will "start reaching out to players and get to know them as soon as possible" while also working to assemble a coaching staff (DISPATCH.com, 12/2).

JUST IN TIME: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman notes U.S. Soccer execs have "defended their timeline as largely inevitable given a sequence of events that overhauled the federation's leadership." Former coach Bruce Arena "resigned three days after the loss to Trinidad and Tobago" in October '17 that eliminated the U.S. from '18 World Cup qualification, and Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer's "embattled president of 12 years," said last December that he would not seek re-election. Cordeiro's "first order of business was winning another vote: the bid to host" the '26 World Cup. On June 6, Stewart was announced as GM and "set out to find a coach." As months ticked by, some of the USMNT's "most devoted fans were stewing." American Outlaws spokesperson Dan Wiersema said that the group, the largest supporters' group of its kind for the USMNT, has "lost about 5,000 members from its peak of 30,000, many of them dropping their $25 memberships in the past year." Wiersma said that some local group leaders "stepped away, and some fans called for a boycott." Many were "exasperated by what they saw as a lack of transparency in the coaching search" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3).

Incentives in the resolution include a full exemption for the city on sales tax for construction materials
Photo: HOK

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen "overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that outlines tax incentives for a proposed" MLS stadium downtown, according to a front-page piece by Bott & Hunn of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The proposal, which passed 26-2 despite being "just a first step," outlines the "financing plan but doesn’t create the laws required to secure tax incentives." Aldermen would "vote on those later -- if, Mayor Lyda Krewson has said, the MLS awards St. Louis a team." But the resolution also "provides a set of incentives that the city and ownership group have agreed on, laying out a framework -- and expectations -- for the deals to come." Incentives "include a full exemption on sales tax for construction materials, free use of the site" and a 50% break on ticket taxes and the addition of a 3% "sales tax on goods sold at the stadium." The resolution also "recommends funneling the other half of the ticket tax into a city fund to support future stadium improvements" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/1).

WELL... WE'RE WAITING: In St. Louis, Ben Frederickson wrote, "If MLS wants to be in St. Louis as bad as St. Louis has been led to believe, there should be no reason to delay. Show us some love." The city has a "whole lot of public enthusiasm" and an "appealing ownership group." There is also "available land" and, "perhaps most important, approving lawmakers." St. Louis "wants in, and it has worked to get here, but this remains a region scarred by the NFL’s departure." Frederickson: "Nothing is more appealing to our area than a league that wants to help us turn the page. Nothing is less appealing to our area than a league that comes across as standoffish" (STLTODAY.com, 12/2).

MLB saw just one unidentified player test positive "for a banned stimulant in the year ending with the World Series," according to Ronald Blum of the AP. The league during the '17 season saw "two positive tests for banned stimulants that did not result in a suspension" (AP, 11/30). In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted MLB's joint drug prevention and treatment program report for '18 "indicates there were 101 therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit disorder (ADD) but only one positive test for amphetamines." Cafardo: "This is amazing considering in the old days amphetamines were in a bowl for players as soon as they walked into the clubhouse." It was the "performance enhancer of choice back then, and most players partook" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/2).

UNDER FURTHER REVIEW: In N.Y., Stephen Rex Brown reports umpire Angel Hernandez has "sued MLB for discrimination, claiming that he has not been promoted to crew chief because of his Latino descent." The suit was "recently moved to Manhattan Federal Court from Cincinnati." An MLB lawyer in a letter filed last week "revealed that Hernandez has requested 'several categories of highly sensitive documents' to prove his case." Attorney Neil Abramson wrote the categories "include 'employment documents concerning job history, performance and evaluation of other umpires,' confidential grievance and arbitration proceedings, umpire training methodology and instant replay protocol." Hernandez had three calls "overturned at first base" during Red Sox-Yankees ALDS Game 3 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/3).