Kareem Hunt

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Kareem Hunt aims to earn trust, get life on track with Browns

Counseling, community service, faith helping Willoughby South product

May 15, 2019
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Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – With the football tucked away in his right arm, Kareem Hunt effortlessly navigated the ropes, raising his knees as he swiftly moved through them during a drill Wednesday.

For Hunt, football comes easy. Life away from it does not and for that he has only himself to blame.

General manager John Dorsey drafted Hunt in 2017 and two years later gave him a new lease on life after being cut by the Chiefs when a security video of him getting into an altercation in a hallway outside his apartment at the Metropolitan at the 9 in Downtown Cleveland in Feb. 2018 was published by TMZ.com.

“He knows the type of person I am and that wasn’t me,” Hunt said Wednesday following the second of 10 OTAs. “I mean, I definitely made a mistake, and I apologize for it once again. And I told him I’m going to move forward and become a better person.”

That video which showed Hunt shoving and kicking a young woman was even hard for him to watch.

“I was like, ‘Wow, it’s pretty bad. That’s not me,’” Hunt said. “I knew it wasn’t (me).

“It was hard. I didn’t really watch the video for a long, long time.”

Hunt has not apologized to the victim because he says that he doesn’t have the means to get in touch with her, but he is remorseful.

“If I was to see her, I would apologize to her face,” Hunt said.

Actions speak louder than words and since joining the Browns Hunt has been a model citizen.

“Everybody in life has messed up and not everybody in life gets a second chance,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I think he’s making the most of it. I really do.”

Unfortunately for the 23-year old Hunt, his off-the-field troubles have all occurred where he grew up and now where he aims to get his football career and life back on track.

“I got a lot of supporters and my family behind me and a great organization like the Browns and I’m just excited to be back on the field,” Hunt said.

Hunt claims that the February 2018 incident is out of character for him even though he was involved in two other incidents, including one in June 2018 at Put-in-Bay where Hunt was accused of punching a man during an argument but charges were not filed because the other party involved declined to pursue them, that were investigated by the NFL.

“I’m a person who’s always kind of positive and I bring a smile to everybody’s face and I like to hang out and joke around with the guys and stuff like that,” Hunt said. “I’m just one of those guys who don’t really like drama at all.”

Nick Chubb, who will share the backfield eventually with Hunt, has already seen that side of Hunt.

“He’s a great guy,” Chubb said. “I’m enjoying having him as a teammate. He keeps you laughing and he keeps you up.”

Dorsey believes in second chances as evidenced by Hunt’s signing however he doesn’t hand out thirds.

“I told him, 'You can trust me,'” Hunt said. “I've got to earn his trust, and I've got to earn everybody's trust in the whole organization. I'm not willing to mess that up.”

Hunt, a Willoughby South High School product, burst on to the scene when he led the NFL in rushing as a rookie for Kansas City with 1,327 yards, but that video tape, along with a pair of other off-the-field incidents led to his career being put on hold until Dorsey threw him a lifeline in February.

“I’m just taking it very seriously,” Hunt said. “And doing everything I can and prevent something like that from happening again.”

Hunt will serve an eight-game suspension this season, handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He’ll be eligible to play for the Browns Nov. 10 against Buffalo.

“Mistakes happen, I can speak from personal experience,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “Everybody that’s been around him knows who he is, so I think he’s being given a second chance and will take advantage of it.”

Until Hunt is allowed to play again, he is hoping to make amends for his past sins in a multitude of ways.

In addition to attending counseling sessions twice per week, Hunt has been going out and speaking with high school students to warn them not to make the same mistakes he has.

“I didn’t really have anybody come talk to me when I was in high school or something, somebody to look up to and explain that, you know, nobody’s perfect and you gotta learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistakes,” Hunt said.

The idea to talk to high school students was Hunt’s idea, not the organization’s according to Kitchens.

“That’s where it needs to come from,” Kitchens said. “It needs to come from his heart and his words. I have been impressed with how he has gone about things.”

This weekend he’s also getting baptized.

“I’m looking forward so I can feel reborn,” Hunt said.