BEREA, Ohio — Kareem Hunt says he made “a mistake.” And now he is out to make the most of a second chance afforded to him by the Cleveland Browns.
“I know I am not going to mess this up again,” Hunt said Wednesday after the team’s first OTA of the season.
The running back signed with the Browns in February after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs when a video surfaced of Hunt shoving and kicking a female at a Cleveland hotel in 2018. Because of that night, Hunt will miss the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Despite that incident happening in Cleveland, Hunt, 23, feels like there was no better spot for him to play than in his hometown.
“It definitely turned out to be good landing in a situation like the Browns and being close to home,” Hunt said. “I have a lot of supporters and my family behind me and a great organization like the Browns.”
Hunt said multiple times Wednesday that he “made a mistake” and that he knows he needs to “make better decisions.” He also said the video was hard to watch and he doesn’t have an anger problem, but that he is attending anger management counseling to better deal with what happened on that 2018 evening.
“I am not an angry person,” Hunt said. “I felt like I needed to make better decisions.”
Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards in 2017, described himself as a positive person who tries to bring a smile to everybody’s face. Nick Chubb has already seen that side of his new teammate.
“He’s cool, he’s a great guy,” Chubb said. “I am enjoying having him as a teammate. He keeps you laughing and he keeps you up.”
Since returning to Cleveland this winter, Hunt has been reaching out to local high school students to talk to them about making the right decisions in their lives and to learn from any mistakes they make along the way.
“I didn’t really have anyone to come talk to me when I was in high school,” Hunt said. “I have been telling them, ‘You guys have to make smart decisions.’ I have made mistakes; everyone makes mistakes. You have to learn from your mistakes and not make the same mistakes. Think before you act. When your emotions get high, don’t act off your emotions.”
The decision to talk to high school kids was one made by Hunt, not by the organization or the league.
“That’s where it needs to come from, it needs to come from his heart and his words,” first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I have been impressed with the way he has gone about things.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said the team has welcomed Hunt. Mayfield, who was arrested in 2017 and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing, while playing at the University of Oklahoma, knows what it is like to deal with backlash. Mayfield said he talked to Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce — Hunt’s former teammates with the Chiefs — and that the two of them vouched for the running back.
“Mistakes happen, I can speak from personal experience,” Mayfield said. “Everybody that has been around him knows who he is, so I think he is being given a second chance and will take advantage of it.”
Kitchens also believes the third-year pro from nearby Willoughby South High School will take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Browns.
“Everybody in life is messed up and not everybody in life gets a second chance,” Kitchens said. “I think he is making the most of it. I really do. We support him in everything he does.”
At the end of the day, Hunt knows that words are just words and people won’t be able to fully trust him until he shows with his actions that he is truly sorry.
“I am going to take it day-by-day,” Hunt said. “I have to earn people’s trust and my actions are going to show.”
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