CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey said Monday that the team did “extensive research” on running back Kareem Hunt before signing the talented, yet troubled ball-carrier to a one-year contract Monday.
Part of that research included investigating the physical altercation with a woman that occurred at a Cleveland hotel last February and coming to terms with the fact that Hunt would be in his hometown potentially with the same influencers with whom he was previously associated.
“You don’t take things like that lightly and you have discussions,” Dorsey said at a press conference at team headquarters Monday addressing the signing. “You talk through these things.
“You just talk through them, and then, you have to understand the family dynamics of his situation, and then, you have to understand who the circle of friends are and where that circle of friends will be now that he’s going to begin to earn the trust of everybody within this organization, and everybody within this community. Again, it’s through your actions you’ll earn the trust. Now, we’ll see.”
A native of Willoughby and graduate of South High School, Hunt was released from his rookie contract on November 30, 2018 when video surfaced of him pushing, and later, kicking a woman at The 9 Hotel in Downtown Cleveland. Since that video became public, reports of other incidents involving Hunt have surfaced.
The 23-year old Hunt, a product of the University of Toledo, was released by the Chiefs immediately after video of the incident went public. During the video, Hunt was seen having to be physically restrained by another member of a group that had gathered in a hotel hallway.
Since being released, Hunt reportedly has sought counseling to address his off-the-field issues.
“There’s a couple plans in place, it’s one from the professional counselors,” Dorsey said. “One, you follow that plan. I think if he begins to follow the plan that we laid out on a day-to-day basis, then he begins to not only earn the respect of the people within the Cleveland Browns organization, he begins to gain the respect of the people in the community.
“Why not make suggestions to him to go out in the community, get involved within your community, because who is the community of Cleveland but the people that live there? So why not interact with the people of Cleveland and begin to show them that, ‘You know what, Kareem Hunt’s not as bad as everybody makes him out to be?’”
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 40-yard gains. Additionally, Hunt caught 79 passes out of the backfield for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a single-season career high of seven in 2018.
As a rookie in 2017, 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.
“We have to weigh all options,” Dorsey said, “but, at the end of the day, you have to be convinced that you have a plan in place that will put him in a position to thrive and become that person that we expect him to be, because the goal of this organization is not only do you leave as a better football player, you leave as a better man.”