Never mind the fact that the NFL knew or should have known about the contents of the TMZ video that emerged out of the blue on Friday afternoon. The rest of us didn’t, and once we did the NFL had to act.
And the NFL did the only thing it could, placing Hunt on paid leave (via the Commissioner Exempt list) pending the completion of the league’s investigation and disciplinary process.
With a sudden urgency to keep Hunt off the field given the P.R. firestorm that emerged after the publication of the video, only days after Washington committed a blatant unforced error by making a waivers claim for linebacker Reuben Foster, the NFL couldn’t have suspended Hunt without pay, because the process of imposing discipline and resolving all appeals under the Personal Conduct Policy would have taken more than two days.
So Hunt will be paid to not play until further notice, with a Personal Conduct Policy review followed by a proposed punishment followed by an appeal. Which could mean that, with only 30 days left in the regular season, Hunt likely will miss most of the remainder of the regular season and postseason, depending on the number of games he’s suspended without pay.
The swift action, compelled only by the public emergence of the video and nothing more, does nothing to answer the deeper questions of whether the NFL and/or the Chiefs knew about the video and, if so, why Hunt wasn’t previously suspended. Those dominos can fall in a variety of directions, with a broad range of potential consequences.