CLEVELAND — So John Dorsey wants you to know the Browns do not condone Kareem Hunt kicking and pushing a woman in an incident that led to the Kansas City Chiefs waiving their No. 1 running back in late November.
What a relief?
As if condoning that is even possible?
You get zero points for condemning the despicable, especially in words alone.
To a more pertinent question — who would endorse Hunt’s character despite that incident last February in downtown Cleveland and one or two other incidents the NFL is investigating — Dorsey answered it by signing Hunt Monday.
The Browns GM issued a lengthy statement. Paraphrased, he’s clearly saying Hunt’s actions don’t matter as much as his talent.
Dorsey's added caveat that Hunt must show he’s really, really sorry by taking steps to avoid doing it again doesn’t change the message the Browns sent.
Not even violence against women scares Dorsey away from the if-come of landing a talent who led the league in rushing as a rookie.
There’s condoning it in words, which no one of sound mind would do. There’s condoning it in actions, which the Browns did Monday.
Such a signing requires the kind of extreme massaging Dorsey gave it in his statement.
Dorsey claimed “extensive due diligence” in deciding to give the Willoughby native and University of Toledo product another chance even while the league’s investigation continues.
That’s not to be confused, apparently, with the simple diligence Dorsey did before drafting Hunt in the third round as GM of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017.
Dorsey cited two important factors in rationalizing Hunt’s signing Monday. That Hunt showed true remorse for his actions and that he’s committed to “necessary professional treatment.”
That sounds remarkably like Josh Gordon the first, second, third and fourth incidents.
I know. You can’t compare drug addiction to violence against women. And if by that you mean the latter is much worse, then we agree.
Dorsey sent Gordon on his way early last season. So maybe his contention is believable that a “similar incident will not be tolerated.”
But... hooray? Way to draw the line?
The best we can say of the Browns in signing Hunt is that they’re smarter than the Washington Redskins were when they eagerly claimed linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers two days after a second allegation of domestic abuse last season.
For those without much background in the NFL who are tuning in to find out how men who run sports organizations so easily rationalize violence against women if a player is good enough, “smarter than the Redskins” is not meant as high praise.
The more head coach Jay Gruden and VP of Personnel Doug Williams talked about signing Foster, the worse they made it. If that was even possible.
It culminated with Williams citing the misbehavior of people “in high, high places” and pronouncing what Foster did “small potatoes” by comparison. Williams quickly apologized.
The Browns did better than that. They said most of the predictable things organizations say when they can't ignore great talent. It was impossible to do worse.
Here’s how the Hunt signing is most likely to proceed. He’s still on the commissioner’s exempt list. A lengthy suspension — half the 2019 season maybe — will follow.
We'll forget about him for a while. At some point, the team will say he's making great strides in personal development.
By the time he's eligible the Browns season will be in full roar. If the upward trend of 2018 continues, so will the fan base.
If Hunt succeeds, Dorsey will get credit for more brilliance.
For good reason, he’s Teflon John right now. But this signing? This signing -- under these circumstances -- leaves a mark.