BEREA, Ohio — Kareem Hunt says he made “a mistake.” And now he is out to make the most of an opportunity 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 woman at his Cleveland residence in 2018. Because of that altercation, Hunt will miss the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Hunt, 23, believes there was no better spot for him to play than in Cleveland, 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 the video of that 2018 evening was hard to watch and that he doesn’t have an anger problem, but that he is attending anger management counseling.
“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, said he has been reaching out to local high school students since returning to Cleveland this winter.
“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 made by Hunt, not by the Browns or the NFL.
“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 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,” said Mayfield, who was arrested in 2017 and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing while playing for Oklahoma. “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.”
“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.”