Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants the NFL to justify its anti-trust exemption every five years.
Blumenthal sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with his frustration over how the league has handled allegations of sexual and domestic assault involving its players. He specifically referenced the most recent allegations and police report filed against Kareem Hunt, formerly with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"There is evidence of wrongdoing ignored and even concealed by the NFL about its players and their sometimes vicious assault on women,” Blumenthal said during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Friday.
Hunt is accused of assault following an altercation at a Cleveland, Ohio hotel in February. A police report was generated, but charges were never filed against the NFL star. A surveillance video of the incident shows Hunt allegedly assaulting a woman near several elevators and kicking her while she was on the ground.
NBC Connecticut reached out to the NFL for comment but they never responded to our requests. A spokesman for the NFL told ESPN last week that the league was aware of the allegations in June but was not able to gain access to a copy of the surveillance video. The NFL says they only saw the video once TMZ Sports published it online last week.
Hunt was subsequently made inactive by the league and later released by the Kansas City Chiefs, officially ending his season.
"It approaches hypocrisy and hubris in a way that really requires some explanation by the NFL,” Blumenthal said.
The senator wants to examine the exemption that allows the league to act without the challenge of competition in the marketplace. Sports leagues are viewed as providing exhibitions, and not traditional businesses, which allow leagues like the NFL and Major League Baseball to operate as near-monopolies. Under Blumenthal’s legislation, the league’s anti-trust exemption would expire every five years and be up for re-authorization by the US Congress.
Mary-Jane Foster, President and CEO of the Interval House, which works towards ending domestic violence, says moves like this by Blumenthal could shift the reaction and treatment of star athletes when they’re accused of domestic or sexual assault.
"We should be talking about arraignment and we should be talking about pleas, and we should be talking about time served, that's when we will hold the NFL and the other major sports major sports organizations accountable,” Foster said. “When we start holding the offenders accountable as human beings and not as the gifted athletes have earned the right to play and not the privilege to beat and abuse women."