CLEVELAND — Browns general manager John Dorsey has never been shy about signing players with character concerns. On Monday, he did just that as the Browns announced they had signed troubled, former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. The deal is for one-year and could be worth upwards of $1 million according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Hunt made headlines late in the season when a video surfaced of the 23-year-old punching and kicking a women at a hotel here in Cleveland last February. Hunt was added to the commissioners exempt list promptly after the video was made public by TMZ and hours later was released by Kansas City.
Hunt was never charged or arrested for the incident. He later apologized to the woman publicly in an interview with ESPN following his release.
In a statement released through the team’s Twitter account, Dorsey explained the decision to add Hunt and acknowledged that the move comes with plenty of questions.
“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.”
As Dorsey mentioned his history with Hunt is well documented, having drafted University of Toledo star in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, prior to his departure from Kansas City that summer.
The Cleveland native, Hunt, also shared a statement through the team’s social media. He once again apologized for the actions that led to his release.
“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year,” Hunt’s remarks began “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.”
Meanwhile, the Browns will have to wait for Hunt to make any sort of impact on the field as he returns to the commissioner’s exempt list upon being signed by Cleveland . The running back is sure to face a heft suspension in 2019.
Despite the concerning incident from a year ago, Hunt was viewed as too talented to remain unemployed forever. He burst onto the season in his rookie season, posting 1,327 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while adding another three scores through the air. In 11 games this past season he had rushed for 824 yards and had 14 total touchdowns, half of which came on the ground. As it turns out, Hunt gets a second chance in his hometown.