Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt has signed with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal worth just north of $1 million. Hunt was released from the Chiefs during this past season after video surveillance was released showing him assaulting a woman in February of 2018.
According to Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL, "The graphic video’s release [in December] forced the hands of the league and the team, both of which had been unable to get the footage as part of their investigation."
However, he will not be able to play in the upcoming season until he is taken off of the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt list, which prohibits players from practicing with the team or playing in games until a punishment has been decided. He can, however, attend meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation if the Browns allow him.
The general manager of the Cleveland Browns, John Dorsey, attempted to justify this signing in a written statement.
“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,” Dorsey said.
This decision by the Cleveland Browns is a head scratcher. Why risk backlash when you already have Nick Chubb, who had a promising rookie season, and Duke Johnson, who recently signed a three-year contract?
One can argue that a crowded backfield is beneficial because of depth, but there is a chance that Hunt could not see the field until the 2020 season. Sadly, the Cleveland Browns are not the first team to sign someone who has been accused of domestic violence backed up by credible evidence.
The Cincinnati Bengals went ahead and drafted Joe Mixon in 2017 despite there being a surveillance video of the former University of Oklahoma running back punching a woman inside a restaurant.
Kareem Hunt has received the benefit of the doubt because of the pure talent he brings to the field. In the NFL, owners stick together and will not sign players who have the risk of damaging the franchise, unless their talent outweighs the negative attention the team may receive.
That is the reason why Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed. His protests have angered the mostly conservative fanbase of the NFL, and while he did lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he apparently wasn’t worth the baggage that he brought with him.
The Cleveland Browns value Hunt enough to “give him a second chance” because he is an immense talent that will put people in the seats come Sunday.
However, pure talent alone should not allow a player to continue playing, especially one who has been accused of domestic violence. Children look up to these players, especially the most famous ones, as role models.
To give Kareem Hunt a slap on the wrist would tell children that as long as you have the talent, domestic violence is tolerated. It’s absurd how Colin Kaepernick, a player who carried his team to the Super Bowl, has been turned down by plenty of teams for exercising his rights. Violence against women has proven to be more acceptable in the NFL than activism.
Adrian Peterson, Joe Mixon and now Kareem Hunt have been given multiple chances to play for teams despite being accused of acts that are much more despicable than what Kaepernick did.