BEREA, Ohio — As his track record shows, Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey is willing to give players with checkered pasts second chances to play professional football, and he did so again Monday by signing former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.
A Pro Bowl player in 2017, Hunt was caught on video pushing a man into a woman, and later, walking back over to the woman and kicking her to the ground. Also, Hunt was seen having to be physically restrained from continuing the argument.
When the video was released last November, Hunt immediately was released by the Chiefs, but after doing “extensive research,” Dorsey felt comfortable enough with the information gathered to give the Willoughby native and South High School graduate a second chance.
“I think we’re all appalled by it,” Dorsey said. “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, you know what, I am willing to help a man get 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.”
A product of the University of Toledo, Hunt was released from his rookie contract on November 30, 2018 when video surfaced of him pushing down, and later, kicking a woman at The 9 Hotel in Downtown Cleveland.
Since that video became public, reports of other physical incidents involving Hunt have surfaced.
“At the end of it, one thing we did find was he understands and takes full accountability for the act, for the egregious act he committed,” Dorsey said. “He is extremely remorse for his actions. What he has done is he has sought professional counselling.
“He is now working towards being a better man moving forward. By no means, from an organizational standpoint, is this a guarantee of anything. As we all know, trust has to be earned, and that has to be earned with the Cleveland Browns organization and the community of Cleveland moving forward. This will be a day-to-day thing in terms of earning trust.”
In two years with the Chiefs, Hunt rushed for 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns with 106 first downs, 19 plays going for at least 20 yards and four were 40-yard gains. Additionally, Hunt caught 79 passes out of the backfield for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a single-season career high seven in 2018.
As a rookie, Hunt rushed for an NFL-best 1,327 yards on 272 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt, which earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.
Hunt was a third-round pick of the Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft, and with him remaining on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, even though the Browns signed him, he is not eligible to play until cleared by the league office.
“At the end of the day, you have to earn those stripes,” Dorsey said. “You have to earn that, and you earn that by making the final 53 roster. There are no guarantees of anything.
“I’ve always believed that it is important if a person wants to better themselves moving forward and be a better person, I’m willing to give them a chance. In terms of doing all the deep research I’ve done, I still believe that he will be a better man today than he was yesterday.”