Clark Hunt says Chiefs were aware of Kareem Hunt’s episodes before his release

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt on Kareem Hunt: ‘We were shocked by the video’

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke publicly to reporters on Dec. 9, 2018 for first time since the team waived running back Kareem Hunt in the wake of a TMZ video release which showed him shoving and kicking a young woman in a Cleveland hotel.
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Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke publicly to reporters on Dec. 9, 2018 for first time since the team waived running back Kareem Hunt in the wake of a TMZ video release which showed him shoving and kicking a young woman in a Cleveland hotel.

The Chiefs were aware of Kareem Hunt’s three violent episodes in a six-month span before his release, team CEO Clark Hunt said Sunday afternoon.

“We did know about that, yes, we were familiar with all three of the incidents that he had had in the offseason,” said Clark Hunt, speaking for the first time publicly since Kareem Hunt’s release after the Chiefs clinched a playoff berth Sunday afternoon. “They’d all been reported to the NFL, and the NFL was investigating them.”

Kareem Hunt, who a source told The Star is now in counseling, was involved in three separate incidents from January to June. The first was an altercation at Mosaic nightclub in Kansas City’s Power and Light District. The second was the February incident in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel that was captured on security footage, and the third was a situation where he allegedly punched a man in the face at a Ohio resort in June.

The Chiefs released the running back hours after video footage from the February incident in a move that Hunt said was a unified decision.

“I don’t think we were necessarily trying to make a statement, we just felt that the best thing for the Kansas City Chiefs moving forward was for us to part ways with Kareem,” Clark Hunt said. “We were obviously shocked by the video, like anybody who saw it, and we’d had some issues with Kareem not being truthful with what happened that night, and we just really felt for everybody’s best interests we needed to head in a different direction.”

During the team’s investigation of the February incident, Kareem Hunt told the Chiefs he didn’t leave his apartment. The video later disproved that. As is standard operating procedure, after the Chiefs’ initial investigation of the altercation, the team gave its findings to the NFL to allow the league to run the investigation. But the NFL never questioned Kareem Hunt and didn’t see the video until it was published by TMZ a week and a half ago. Clark Hunt didn’t have any specific suggestions for how the NFL could better handle an investigation.

“I’m not sure I’m at a point right now where I can say there was a breakdown and specifically what that breakdown was,” Clark Hunt said. “The league has spent a lot of time and resources trying to build a department that can handle these types of situations.

“Obviously, it’s imperfect. I’m not sure you can ever reach perfection. There are limitations on the type of information that league security people are able to get, and I’m not sure that we can change that.”

Clark Hunt said his staff didn’t uncover anything that concerned them about Hunt’s character during the draft process.

“Our staff felt comfortable with taking him, otherwise we would not have selected him,” Hunt said.

But in the aftermath of Hunt’s TMZ video, the Chiefs may tweak the process they use to evaluate players.

“Well, I think it’s always smart to try to get better at everything that you’re doing,” Hunt said. “Our scouting staff does a really good job of vetting players. And part of that analysis is their character. Obviously, it’s very hard to learn everything about somebody. Sometimes you have somebody who in college didn’t have any incidents and they get to the pro level and with the fame and fortune and so forth that comes with the position, they do something that you don’t expect.

“So we’re certainly going to try to get better, but I don’t think you can ever be perfect in that regard.”

The last time Clark Hunt spoke with Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs CEO expressed hope that his former player would get some help. But Clark Hunt declined to answer if Kareem Hunt had received any counseling while he was with the Chiefs.

“I think the most important thing for Kareem is that he get some counseling that can help him with his issues,” Hunt said. “And I heard today that there was a report that he was going to do that, and certainly we wish the best for Kareem in the future. I hope that at some point he’s able to come back to the National Football League, not sure when that will be.

“But our message to him was that even though we’re having to part ways with you today, we’re still supportive of you. and if you need us to get you some help off the field, we’re willing to do that.”

Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.