CLEVELAND — The Browns say they have signed Kareem Hunt, the former Kansas City Chiefs running back who was caught on camera pushing and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel.
Hunt, who played for Willoughby South High School, led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards in his rookie season in 2017.
The Cleveland Browns believe there’s remorse in Kareem Hunt’s heart. The NFL hasn’t gotten that far.
Following their own investigation, the Browns signed Hunt to a one-year contract Monday, giving the former star Chiefs running back a second chance after a video showed him pushing and kicking a woman.
“I think we’re all appalled by it,” general manager John Dorsey said at the team’s headquarters, hours after the Browns announced the controversial signing. “It is an egregious act. We all understand that. But after doing our research, extensive research, analyzing the situation, we came to the conclusion that I am willing to help a man from a second chance moving forward to be a better person, and that’s all you can ask for in society, and that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Now, the Browns feel comfortable giving the Cleveland native an opportunity to make amends. Hunt, who sought treatment and counseling, could still be suspended by the league under its personal conduct policy for the incident and two others that surfaced after he was released by the Chiefs.
The league’s investigation is ongoing, and until it’s completed the Browns won’t know if or when he’ll be able to play. Hunt has not been charged with a crime.
Dorsey drafted Hunt in 2017 and feels the former Toledo back’s contrition is genuine.
“I’ve known him since 2016 and I’ve found him to be a neat, young guy,” Dorsey said. “Now let’s reiterate, the egregious act that he did commit ... there is no room for those types of things. We all know that moving forward. But as you go along and you start to see that this individual is truly remorseful, he understands the instances that took place there and he’s trying to make himself a better person now moving forward, and that’s all you can ask for.
Dorsey said he spoke to “numerous individuals” during the team’s investigation, adding he did not reach out to the victim, who has not spoken publicly about the incident.
Browns General Manager John Dorsey released the following statement:
“My relationship and interaction with Kareem since 2016 in college was an important part of this decision making process but we then did extensive due diligence with many individuals, including clinical professionals, to have a better understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him. There were two important factors: one is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out.”
“We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions. Given what we know about Kareem through our extensive research, we believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with the understanding that he has to go through critical and essential steps to become a performing member of this organization, aside from what the NFL determines from their ongoing investigation. We fully understand that Kareem is subject to discipline by the NFL. Here at the Browns, there is a detailed plan with expectations laid out that he understands and must follow, because any similar incident will not be tolerated. We will support Kareem through this process and utilize our resources, however permitted, to help him become successful on and off the field as long as he continues to show the commitment necessary to represent this organization.”
Kareem Hunt made this statement on signing a free agent contract with the Browns:
“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year. What I did was wrong and inexcusable. That is not the man I was raised to be, and I’ve learned a great deal from that experience and certainly should have been more truthful about it after the fact. I’m extremely grateful that John Dorsey, Dee and Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns organization are granting me the opportunity to earn their trust and represent their organization in the best way possible on and off the field. I am committed to following the necessary steps to learn and to be a better and healthier person from this situation. I also understand the expectations that the Browns have clearly laid out and that I have to earn my way back to the NFL. I’m a work in progress as a person, but I’m committed to taking advantage of the support systems that I have in place to become the best and healthier version of myself.”
Late last year, TMZ released video of Hunt shoving, pushing and kicking a woman at The Metropolitan at the 9 Hotel in Cleveland back in February 2018. That video resulted in Hunt being released by the Chiefs.
Hunt has voluntarily sought counseling after being involved in multiple incidents this past year.
The two other incidents involving Hunt are a resort altercation from June about which the league questioned him and a violent incident at a nightclub in January about which the NFL didn't know until recently.