The NFL released a curious statement Friday night on the devastating and ugly video TMZ published showing one of the league's star players, Kansas City's Kareem Hunt, shoving and kicking a woman in a hotel. Curious is one word for it. There are others.
"The NFL's investigation, which began immediately following the incident in February," the league's statement read in part, "will include a review of the new information that was made public today."
New information? That's what we're supposed to believe this was?
This isn't to allege a cover-up happened or was attempted. We don't know that. We may never know that.
What we do know is the NFL utilizes a private army full of ex-cops, FBI agents and former investigators. The league could find a tick on Vladimir Putin's dog's ass while the dog was in Moscow and it was in New York.
And yet TMZ could get this tape but a billion-dollar league couldn't?
No, not alleging a cover-up, but that is remarkably strange.
The league placed Hunt on the commissioner's exempt list and released its statement in response to the TMZ report. Then, just minutes after the statement was released, in one of the fastest moving big stories of the year, the Chiefs announced they had released Hunt. He's gone (for now).
So, in typical NFL form, when it comes to players and violence against women, the league eventually took action but way too late—only after public outcry made continued inaction impossible.
Maybe this time the NFL even tried to do the right thing. TMZ reported that the league contacted the hotel and the police while attempting to obtain the video. We don't know what lengths it might have—or have not—gone to beyond that. But because of the league's history, there's every reason to doubt its intentions.
Football, violence against women and a video—does that sound familiar? Why, yes. Yes, it does.
In 2014, Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an elevator—and the NFL said it had not heard of a video that was eventually found by TMZ. The league only reacted sternly once those horrific images from that elevator surfaced.
But what happened with Rice was supposed to change everything. At least, that's what we were told. But now we have Hunt's actions of February 2018, and, again, a league with enormous financial and investigative resources was outhustled by TMZ.
We don't know how TMZ got the video or how the NFL may have missed it. Nothing about the league's actions or inactions, at this point, can be proved.
But there are basically three possible explanations for why the league was once again lacking brutal and definitive evidence regarding the violent behavior of one of its stars: The NFL and the Chiefs were genuinely ignorant, they were willfully ignorant or they were complicit in an attempted cover-up.
I'll take the third possibility off the table for now. I don't think even the NFL imagines it could pull off a cover-up of something like this anymore. At times, I'm not sure the NFL can pull off a bake sale.
We should also give TMZ some credit. It would not at all be shocking if TMZ is just simply better at locating these things.
But it is totally fair to wonder if the NFL didn't want to find a video. The league's history has lost it the benefit of the doubt on that. It's fair to wonder if it just wanted to believe Hunt—and did and then called off its search for any other documenting evidence. (We have seen where NFL teams and the league ignored a cache of indicators and still moved forward with signing a player who had committed domestic violence because of his talent. The Chiefs, in fact, did this by signing wide receiver Tyreek Hill.)
Regardless, the result is the same: another terrible and shameful situation in a league that makes way too many mistakes in this arena.
"We again as a league look like amateurs on this issue," one NFC team executive told Bleacher Report on Friday.
The league has mishandled many allegations of violence against women, and we don't need to look deep into history. The Giants extended the contract of kicker Josh Brown, knowing his then-wife, Molly, had said he was violent toward her. The league originally suspended him one game. When the disgusting abuse Brown committed became public, the league eventually suspended him six games.
There are more examples, and one of the common denominators is that the NFL gets caught flatfooted, says it will handle things better next time, and then when next time arrives, it makes the same mistakes.
It's the awful NFL two-step on this issue.
Except this two-step goes in circles and never ends—a systemic problem that the league, intentionally or not, has sent 'round and 'round instead of solving.
Foot forward. Ten steps back.
Here we go again.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.