BEREA, Ohio — The lasting visible of Kareem Hunt’s second NFL season wasn’t him stiff-arming a linebacker, shedding a sort out or barreling over a cornerback on the objective line for a landing.
It was Hunt pushing a younger girl after which kicking her whereas she was defenseless on the ground.
That second caught on a surveillance digital camera mortified the sports activities world and led to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs parting methods with one in every of their greatest gamers, a transfer universally admired.
The Cleveland Browns discovered it offensive as properly. Nevertheless, in addition they imagine it was a random act by a good-hearted younger man who feels remorseful and deserves one other likelihood.
On Monday, the Browns, who appeared to lastly emerge from years of gloom, doom and dysfunction by profitable seven video games behind rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield this previous season, signed Hunt to a one-year contract.
The surprising signing got here whereas the league continues to analyze Hunt’s conduct in an incident that befell in a downtown resort foyer final February. It got here simply weeks after Cleveland’s turnaround season following a 0-16 calamity that resulted within the hiring of latest coach Freddie Kitchens, whose appointment created extra momentum for a franchise that has spent the final 20 years spinning its wheels.
The Browns really feel they’re doing the proper factor. Time will inform. Hunt stays on the commissioner’s exempt checklist and will obtain a big suspension.
Common supervisor John Dorsey, who drafted Hunt within the third spherical in 2017 whereas he was with Kansas Metropolis, stated the choice to signal the 23-year-old was rooted in his Christian religion. Hunt has proven contrition, sought counseling and remedy, and vowed to by no means make the identical mistake.
That’s sufficient for Dorsey, who stated nothing is assured and that he could have zero tolerance for additional wrongdoings by Hunt.
“You guys at all times hear me discuss males of character,” he advised reporters, who met with the GM in a convention room for 25 minutes not lengthy after the workforce introduced Hunt’s signing. “I’ll stand by that. I see numerous males of character who commit egregious acts. However on the finish of the day, they study from these acts, moved ahead and have become higher individuals. Once more, I imagine in second probabilities.”
Dorsey was adamant that the Browns accomplished a “thorough” investigation — the league’s inquiry continues to be not full — earlier than signing Hunt and that house owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam accepted the choice so as to add one other troubled participant (see Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon) to Cleveland’s roster.
Nevertheless, Dorsey stated the workforce’s diligence didn’t embody talking with the lady seen on the tape.
Later, standing within the foyer of the workforce’s headquarters in entrance of a generic backdrop and never one that might usually function one of many workforce’s company sponsors, Dorsey was requested what his message can be to any feminine workers of the Browns.
“I feel we’re all appalled by it. It’s an egregious act,” he stated. “All of us perceive that. However after doing our analysis, intensive analysis, analyzing the state of affairs, we got here to the conclusion that, what, I’m keen to assist a person from a second likelihood transferring ahead to be a greater particular person, and that’s all you possibly can ask for in society, and that’s all I’m attempting to do.”
However the determination to carry aboard Hunt raises different questions:
Why now? Why not wait till the draft to seek out one other working again? Are the Browns geared up to deal with Hunt? And is Dorsey assured he actually is aware of Hunt as an individual?
“I’m,” he stated.
However Hunt fooled the Chiefs. He lied about what occurred earlier than he was launched, and the Browns are relying on the Cleveland native to be straight with them and be a mannequin citizen when he returns to play for his hometown workforce.
Hunt launched an announcement saying he regretted his actions and vowed to vary.
“I wish to as soon as once more apologize for my actions final yr,” he stated. “What I did was flawed and inexcusable. That’s not the person I used to be raised to be, and I’ve discovered an amazing deal from that have and positively ought to have been extra truthful about it after the very fact. … I’m dedicated to following the required steps to study and to be a greater and more healthy particular person from this case.
“I additionally perceive the expectations that the Browns have clearly laid out and that I’ve to earn my approach again to the NFL. I’m a piece in progress as an individual, however I’m dedicated to profiting from the help techniques that I’ve in place to change into one of the best and more healthy model of myself.”
Dorsey insisted the Browns didn’t really feel pressured to signal Hunt out of concern he would go to a different workforce.
Detroit Lions basic supervisor Bob Quinn stated the workforce evaluated Hunt and didn’t really feel comfy attempting to signal him due to quite a few points.
“I would like good gamers and I would like good individuals on this group,” Quinn stated.
The Browns are trusting Hunt will be that for them.