NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday said the league won’t pay to acquire videos in cases of physical violence involving its players, days after TMZ released footage of former Kansas City Chiefs star Kareem Hunt attacking a woman in a Cleveland hotel last February.
The NFL said they were unable to obtain the surveillance footage, which showed Hunt shoving and kicking the woman, from the hotel or Cleveland police. Hunt has yet to be suspended over the incident, though the Chiefs released him within hours of the video’s publication.
“First off, we don’t pay for video evidence,” Goodell said at the NFL’s winter meetings. “From our standpoint, we think that’s not appropriate for a league organization to do that. … We obtained material that we have access to, but we’re not going to do it by corrupting people or trying to find a way to bribe them into giving us video.”
TMZ has a history of publishing surveillance footage that has had a major implications for the NFL’s handling of off-field incidents. The gossip site paid more than $100,000 to obtain two videos that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator in 2014, the New Yorker reported.
The Rice incident pushed NFL officials to revamp the league’s player conduct policy, enacting stiffer penalties for incidents involving violence against women. Players receive a six-game suspension for a first-time offense involving domestic violence and a lifetime ban for a second offense.
"To become mercenary and pay for videos opens up a Pandora's box of all kinds of opportunities and things that may come to us from not just surveillance video in public places or surveillance video in residences, but you're talking about the world of social media and everybody on a smartphone," said Todd Jones, the NFL’s special counsel for conduct.
Hunt, who has yet to sign with another team, faces a lengthy suspension if he returns to the league.