It is extremely difficult to have a “slow news day” in the twenty-four hour new-media news cycle. The Browns may have mitigated the shock of signing running back Kareem Hunt by announcing it on a Monday at 2 P.M. It still does not take shock away, leaving room for questions hopefully General Manager John Dorsey is savvy enough to answer.
According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Hunt has signed a one-year deal worth more than $1 million, not considering the suspension. Hunt, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs after video surfaced of an assault incident where Hunt kicked and shoved a woman. Both the Browns and Hunt are aware that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s investigation of this matter is still pending, and, even if allowed back in the league, Hunt will face immediate suspension no less than six weeks and no more than twelve. In other words, if Hunt were to have any impact on the team, it wouldn’t be until mid-November at the earliest. For right now, Hunt will be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, “until the discipline process has concluded whether there is discipline or not discipline we will finish the investigation and then make a determination” (NFL.com).
It should be noted that all teams were aware of these developments, as the Browns were not the only team interested in signing the bedraggled running back. Anyone with influence in Kansas City was interested in Hunt, with Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy wanting to sign him and the Chiefs themselves wanting to resign him.
Dorsey, known to insist on “character guys” and to foster an environment of honesty and integrity, realizes the eyebrows that will be raised in the Browns’ fan community. He has made it very clear that neither he, nor Browns Chief Operation Officer Dee Haslem, nor the Browns organization condone his actions. However, he is adamant that his relationship with Hunt, coupled with the steps Hunt has taken (continuing substance abuse counseling, showing remorse for his actions), can help the running back course correct this young player’s life.
Speculation as to why Hunt was not fully banned from the league centers around no official arrest was made. While the video clearly showed Hunt being restrained, shoving a man into the victim, then kicking the victim while she was on the ground, witness’ statements are conflicting. The victim claims Hunt was physically aggressive with her first; however, according to those in Hunt’s camp, after finding out the young woman was drinking underage, immediately had her removed from his room. She continued to shout racial epithets outside in the hallway until 3:45 a.m. when the incident happened.
Whichever side’s view on the night is accurate is up for Commissioner Goodell to decide. Violence against women is never acceptable, and the NFL has shored up its efforts in speaking out with the “No More” Anti-Violence Campaign. Furthermore, Hunt lying about the situation to the Chiefs does not make things look better for him. Releasing this announcement during a down time in the news cycle does not come off as very “honest”, either. On the other hand, one mistake should not ruin a young man’s career. It will remain to be seen if Hunt will be truly repentant. If surrounded by the right support, Dorsey feels, not only will Hunt be repentant, he will become a better man.
For the official statement from The Browns and Hunt, click here.