Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke to reporters at the 2019 NFL combine about the decision to sign former Chiefs star running back Kareem Hunt.
The Browns signed Hunt to a one-year deal in February, just months after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs for his involvement in an altercation which was caught on video that showed Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February 2018. When asked if he had any concern about bringing Hunt back to the same city in which the Feb. 2018 incident that landed Hunt on the Commissioner's Exempt list occurred, Kitchens said that the city isn't as important as the steps Hunt is taking to "become a better person."
Kitchens also said that Cleveland's close proximity to the 23-year-old's hometown actually make it a good place for Hunt in his development, both personally and professionally.
"I think we have to have a support system in place, which we do. Kareem has to be willing, has to show remorse [and] be willing to make a change," Kitchens said. "He's shown us that. He can be in Kansas City or in Cleveland, that doesn't matter. In a lot of ways it's more important for Kareem to make those advances and to evolve into a better person in his hometown. That's where he's going to do the most good."
He continued: "We'd never justify anything that's happened, but there's some good that can come out of this if he keeps evolving and he keeps doing the things he's supposed to do to become a better person. We'll worry about the football stuff later. Right now we're in the Kareem Hunt business of making him a better person."
Hunt was allegedly also involved in two other fighting incidents. One incident allegedly took place at an Ohio resort in June 2017, where he got into a physical altercation with a guest. The other altercation allegedly took place at a Kansas City night club following a Chiefs playoff loss in 2018.
The Pro Bowler is currently on the Commissioner's Exempt List as the NFL investigation into his misconduct continues. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league's findings would come soon.
At the time of his signing, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey said that Hunt has taken full responsibility for his egregious actions and is also undergoing professional treatment. He added that the team is aware of the complexities of the situation and echoed Kitchens' later sentiments that the team is willing to give Hunt a second chance as long as he continues to take the "critical and essential steps to become a performing member" of the Browns organization.