The Cleveland Browns' have signed former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. The controversial move to sign a player with a troubled past has sparked debate across social media and mixed-emotions here locally.
It was almost a year to the day surveillance video obtained by TMZ showed Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman while at a Cleveland hotel.
Hunt wasn't arrested and did not face charges in the incident, but was released from the Kansas City Chiefs. He has now been signed by the Cleveland Browns.
"My reaction was good and bad," said the president of the Browns Backers in Newton Falls, Daniel Reece.
Reece has been a Brown's fan for 30 years and points to Hunt's skills on the field when he says he believes the running back will be a good addition to the team. But, Reece also believes a temporary suspension or punishment from the NFL may be warranted, followed though by a second chance.
"What I do believe is people do make mistakes and that if they vetted him and believe he is remorseful he should be given a second chance," said Reece.
Also believing in second chances is the co-director of the Beatitude House, a place designed to empower women.
"Here at the Beatitude House we deal with a lot of people who have had things in their past that aren't great, so we are always hoping to help them make a fresh start," said co-director Teresa Boyce. "If he's truly sorry and truly willing to make the changes because change is hard but to really work at it, meet with the professionals and make the changes then I do think he does deserve a second chance."
Not everyone though is on board. One person commented on the 21 News Facebook page, "Oh good to know! Another bad egg!!" Another viewer said, "Just when you think the Brown's are going to pull it together, they pull a stunt like this."
Hunt released a statement:
"First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last February. What I did was wrong and inexcusable. 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."
Statement from Browns' GM John Dorsey:
"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 bette understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him. 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."
"We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareen's history and do not condone his actions. Given what we know about Kareem throughout extensive research, we believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with 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."