Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) called it a “grave injustice,” that controversial former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt has an NFL contract, while original anthem protester Colin Kaepernick does not.
The Georgia Democrat was interviewed on the matter by TMZ reporters at an airport, and expressed his dismay over the NFL’s decision to re-admit someone accused of violent crimes, like Hunt. While at the same time excluding someone engaged in non-violent protest, like Kaepernick.
“When I think about Colin Kaepernick and him being blackballed from the NFL for taking a knee for protesting social injustice but yet people who are accused of crimes get cut and then resigned quickly, something is wrong with that.”
Kareem Hunt was signed to a 1-year-deal by the Cleveland Brown on Monday. The former Kansas City runner was cut by the Chiefs in November after TMZ posted video of Hunt assaulting a female in a hotel lobby. Cleveland’s signing of Hunt, comes less than three months after he was released by Kansas City.
Conversely, Kaepernick remains unsigned by any NFL team since walking away from his contract with San Francisco at the end of the 2017 season.
Johnson further stated that a “reasonable person” could conclude, that the NFL is more accepting or understanding of violence against women, than they are players who demonstrate for political causes.
However, as the Ray Rice situation shows, this is simply not the case. Ray Rice who was also shown on video violently attacking a woman, has never played in the league again since getting kicked out in 2014. What’s the big difference between Ray Rice and Kareem Hunt? Rice was going into his seventh year and averaging only 3.1 yards per carry, when footage of him punching his then-fiancee became public. Kareem Hunt is only going into his third year, and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
In short, both men were shown to be doing terrible things on video. However, given that Hunt is a younger, better player than Rice was at the time of their respective incidents, the potential reward of signing Hunt outweighs the risks associated with him.
The same thing applies to Colin Kaepernick. The former 49er chose to launch his anthem protest movement at a time when his play had eroded to the point where he lost his starting job to a journeyman quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. Had Kaepernick launched his protest in the year where he helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl, his NFL story would have likely had a very different ending. Not only would San Francisco have done everything they could to retain him. If he had hit the free agency market there would have been any number of teams eager to sign him.
However, because Kaepernick was no longer that player, the league’s owners made the business value judgment — not moral judgment. That signing Kaepernick would be more risk than reward. If Kaepernick is looking for someone to blame for not being in the NFL, he should look in the mirror.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn