As the Chiefs’ 11th training camp practice came to a close Saturday, a hillside full of fans at Missouri Western chanted Kareem Hunt’s name as he waited for his turn in the interview tent.
They called out to the second-year pro, beckoning him to come closer to the kids and adults offering up mementos for him to sign.
With 1,327 rushing yards and a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie season, Hunt, a running back from Toledo, is getting used to being the center of attention.
He’s also learning that not all attention is good attention.
In the offseason, Hunt appeared in two TMZ headlines because of alleged altercations in his home state of Ohio.
After those incidents, Hunt said Andy Reid’s message to him was simple.
“Just move forward and focus on football,” Hunt said the Chiefs coach told him.
But before Hunt could do that, the league’s reigning top rusher had to answer for those two offseason incidents in his first public comments since May 24.
“I’ve learned from it,” he said Saturday, “and I’m focused on football.”
When pressed to elaborate on those lessons learned, Hunt was brief.
“Just be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I’m going to keep thinking about football and go out there and do my job.”
In the first incident, a woman said the running back “shoved and pushed” her in downtown Cleveland after a night of bar hopping with Hunt, his friend and others on a party bus. According to the police reports, Hunt’s friend said the woman, 19-year-old Abigail Ottinger, and a friend went back to Hunt’s apartment, but they were kicked out when Hunt and his friends learned they were 19. Ottinger remembered it differently and told police they were kicked out because she “didn’t want” one of the men in the group.
After Ottinger and her friend were removed from the apartment, they reportedly pounded on the apartment door. Another woman in Hunt’s group of friends said Ottinger hit her in the face when she came out and asked them to leave. That’s when, Ottinger told police, Hunt came out of the apartment and “shoved and pushed her.”
While one police report listed Hunt as a suspect, another had Ottinger as the suspect.
Charges were never filed.
In June, Hunt appeared in another TMZ report, this one for allegedly punching a man in the face at an Ohio resort. According to the report, the incident happened at the Bay Lodging Resort in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. The man declined to press charges.
As an organization, the Chiefs have preached the importance of fostering a team with a positive culture, full of players with high character. Those goals were the catalyst for many of the organization’s offseason roster moves.
After Hunt’s offseason incidents, team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said he doesn’t believe the second-year pro is hurting either of those missions.
“The team’s made up of a bunch of young men,” Clark Hunt said Saturday. “They’re not always going to make the best decisions, but we have a strong support system, both with the coaching staff and also with our player development department that works with young guys and talks to them about the situations that they want to be in.
“Kareem is a young man, second year in the league, obviously had a very big year on the field last year. I’m sure he learned some lessons this offseason and hopefully won’t be in those kind of situations in the future.”
Clark Hunt added he doesn’t believe the running back will face any suspension time but he isn’t always privy to those decisions made by the NFL.
Though he missed OTAs and wasn’t a full participant in the first days of training camp thanks to lingering hamstring tightness, Kareem Hunt has been full go in the last three practices.
“You’ve got to take it day by day,” he said. “Don’t force yourself back out there if you’re hurt or something.”