Kareem Hunt has a new team thanks to a familiar face.
Cut from the Chiefs in December following the publication of a video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman in the hallway of his Cleveland residence in February, the running back has been signed by the Cleveland Browns.
The signing comes just over a year to the day since that incident.
John Dorsey, the general manager of Hunt’s new team, was a part of the Chiefs management responsible for drafting Hunt in 2017.
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“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,” Dorsey said in a Browns news release. “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.”
Though Hunt has been signed to a one-year deal, according to a report from NFL Network, he is still on the Commissioner’s Exempt List until the conclusion of the NFL’s investigation into his conduct from the February 2018 incident. Hunt will likely face a suspension pending the results of the investigation. Hunt was also involved in an altercation at Kansas City’s Mosaic Night Club and another at a resort in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, both in 2018.
Though Dorsey told Cleveland reporters on Monday that the organization did “extensive research” about Hunt and his incidents, he also said they did not talk to the victim in the Cleveland hotel video.
“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,” Dorsey said. “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.”
Since his release, the 2017 NFL rushing champ has been working with the league to begin a treatment and counseling program, according to a league source. Dorsey confirmed that in his Monday press conference and added that Hunt would be involved in weekly community outreach.
“What I did was wrong and inexcusable,” Hunt said in a statement released by the Browns. “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.”
Last week, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach didn’t shut the door on the possibility of Hunt returning to the Chiefs in the future. But for now, Hunt will be a Cleveland Brown.
“I don’t ever like to speak in definitive terms on anyone,” Veach said. “I think again, we’re talking about something that occurred two months ago. There are always scenarios down the line and guys who have done everything asked of them through the league and through all the steps of rehabilitation, that sort of thing.
“Again, that hasn’t been discussed here and isn’t something we are thinking about when we are in touch with Kareem, which we have been in regard to our guys talking to his representation and our coaches talking to Kareem. It is solely about making sure he has his life on track, and football and Kareem is the furthest thing from our minds right now.”