Melinda Henneberger

Chiefs believed Hunt and NFL believed Chiefs. Because ‘believe all men’ is still the rule

Kareem Hunt assured the Kansas City Chiefs that he “didn’t have anything to do with the altercation.” Altercation? No, what happened in a Cleveland hotel hallway last February was not, as the dictionary defines that word, a noisy disagreement. We’re still sanitizing what happened, which was that the team’s now-former star running back physically assaulted a 19-year-old woman by shoving and kicking her.

Of course, the Chiefs either believed his story or pretended to, and thus are dumbstruck to learn so belatedly that they were led astray by his masterful efforts to hide the truth. (Didn’t happen, said he. KK, said they.)

In this same way, the NFL believed the Chiefs and fans believed the NFL.

Oh, and the police apparently believed Hunt, too, or just couldn’t figure out what happened. And nobody bothered to watch the hotel video that showed otherwise, or so they claim.

When TMZ — which just showed the world what really happened 10 months ago — is the major watchdog on player violence against women, what does that tell you about how seriously we take it?

What does it say that the Chiefs put out a statement saying Hunt was being released for lying? Here’s what: that it didn’t even occur to them to claim that he was being released for assaulting a woman. They made clear that misleading was more serious than manhandling.

The great irony of all the outcry about how unfair and illogical it is to “believe all women” about sexual and other violence is that for most of those doing the crying out, the correct response is on the contrary to believe all men and hope no further evidence comes to light.

In what other crime do we ever take a suspect’s word for his innocence and let it go at that? “But he says he didn’t kill that guy” — or steal that sweater, for that matter — is never the end of an investigation, but only the beginning.

The right answer isn’t to believe the victim and call it a day, either, obviously; it’s to thoroughly investigate, instead of claiming, as in this case and so many others, that nothing further could be known, so oh well.

The Star reported that “the Chiefs had initially pursued the video until they were told not to by the NFL,” according to a source close to the team. That’s the standard operating procedure of NFL investigations. Once a team reports an incident to the league, the league takes over the investigation process — including gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

“But the NFL never spoke to Hunt or approached him after the February incident, Hunt told ESPN in a Sunday morning interview. A source close to the team was surprised to learn the NFL didn’t attempt to talk with Hunt.”

I’m sure that is SOP, for the league to “take over” the “investigation process.” Which is not to say that they actually investigate. So much surprise, so little credibility.

Also not believable: No one knew what was on the tape. No one could obtain the tape, either — oh, except TMZ.

Even now, there’s more sympathy for Hunt, who hasn’t been charged with any crime, than for the teenager who was on the ground when he kicked her: “I think you guys know me well enough to know that those kind of things are never easy,” coach Andy Reid said on Sunday.

Hunt, who is also accused of being involved in an assault last January, and then punching another man in June, hasn’t had any counseling yet, but is sure sorry now that the video is out.

Anger “could be an issue,” he said in an interview with ESPN. “I feel like everybody gets a little angry sometimes and I’m going to get treatment on it. I want to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

We’ll believe that, too, naturally; after all, why would he lie?