Column: Browns’ trust put to the test by Kareem Hunt

Weekend incident makes headlines following another video published by TMZ

Daryl Ruiter
July 01, 2019 - 10:54 pm

Daryl Ruiter - 92.3 The Fan

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Kareem Hunt should count his blessings after an incident Saturday night appears to be much ado about nothing.

The facts remain unclear, but regardless of what took place on West 6th in downtown Cleveland that resulted in the Browns running back having a conversation with multiple Cleveland police officers outside of a bar, it appears that Hunt put himself in an unnecessary and precarious position.

He also forced the Browns, who took the chance to sign him – along with the public relations hit for doing so, to answer unnecessary questions about an incident, the details of which seem to include 100 different versions of the same story.

Ask anyone within the organization – from owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to general manager John Dorsey, head coach Freddie Kitchens and Hunt’s teammates – and they’ll all sing his praises about what a great person Hunt is, how everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes bad things happen in life.

Until Saturday night, Hunt had checked off all the boxes on the PR-101 handbook of ‘how to re-establish your reputation’ after a security video showed him shoving and kicking a woman outside his apartment at the Metropolitan at The 9 in February 2018.

Hunt admitted his wrongdoing and in his own way apologized.

Everyone vouched for his character.

Then came the community service, which included trips to local high schools where he candidly told his story and warned of the dangers of fame and poor decision making.

In May Hunt was baptized – a ceremony attended by Dorsey and Kitchens.

Check, check, check and check.

All Hunt had to do was lay low and serve his eight-game suspension before resuming his football career in November, but he just can’t bring himself to do it.

It took until Nov. 30, 2018 for that video to surface and TMZ quickly published it. He was done in Kansas City that very same day. The NFL investigated a total of three incidents involving Hunt, including one last summer at Put-In-Bay where Hunt allegedly got into an altercation at a bar, but no charges were filed, leading to the suspension.

Hunt is lucky that another video published Monday by TMZ didn’t end his time with the Browns, and possibly in the NFL.

Sure, it’s easy to argue that Hunt should be able to go out and enjoy himself just like everyone else, including his teammates.

An argument can also be made that no police report was filed Saturday, Hunt wasn’t arrested, no charges levied and all’s well that ends well but Hunt no longer operates by the same standards and rules he used to.

When Hunt does go out – especially to certain establishments on West 6th – he should assume that his privacy will not be respected. Every word he speaks and every action he takes is subject to documentation, recounting and or filming by bystanders and even employees where it is likely to end up published on social media, TMZ or the internet for everyone else’s gain but his.  

Hunt is a target and perception is reality.

That is the reality he lives in. Right or wrong, fair or not.

It is entirely possible that Hunt is completely innocent and what took place Saturday night was a misunderstanding that has been blown completely out of proportion, but this is Kareem Hunt and he no longer possesses the benefit of the doubt.

Actions have consequences and Hunt’s margin for error is paper-thin as a result of them.

Hunt put Dorsey’s zero-tolerance policy unnecessarily to the test – prompting a talking to from the team Monday afternoon.

The incident also overshadowed what he was up to earlier in the evening on Saturday – an appearance at a charity bowling event held by teammate Rashard Higgins in Brook Park.

Whatever led to that sidewalk chat with Cleveland’s finest, which thrust Hunt back into the negative spotlight, the Browns should be worried, very worried, about Hunt’s ability to stay out of trouble.

As for Hunt, he should realize how blessed he is to have Dorsey and the Browns' belief in him and he should do all he can to avoid trouble of any kind because he might not be so lucky the next time he ends up on TMZ or is asked to talk to police.