Running back Kareem Hunt’s first meeting with the media in Cleveland followed a familiar path.
In the roughly 18 minutes he spoke, he said a video of him pushing and kicking a woman wasn’t representative of his true personality. He said he wouldn’t mess up a second chance with the Browns. He said he was bettering himself as a person and making better decisions.
Kareem Hunt said he’s spent time going to high schools, telling students to learn from his mistake: “You guys have to make smart decisions... Think before you act.”
Hunt said it’s important to talk to kids because he didn’t have anyone coming to school to talk to him #browns pic.twitter.com/pPM7ZwCAyb
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) May 15, 2019
Hunt might have been sincere in everything he said, but it’s not like we haven’t heard others in similar situations say the same things. A lot of people have presumably coached Hunt on what to say.
Hunt did have some seemingly genuine moments, two in particular. First, he said he was being baptized on the east side of Cleveland this weekend, and was excited for that.
“I’m looking forward, so I can feel reborn,” Hunt said.
The other moment came when he was asked his reaction the first time he saw the infamous video, which led to the Kansas City Chiefs cutting him and an eight-game NFL suspension.
“I was like, ‘Wow, it’s pretty bad.’ That’s not me,” Hunt said. “It was hard. I didn’t really watch the video for a long, long time.”
Kareem Hunt said he has changed
When a player has a second chance after an incident like Hunt had, there’s always talk about changing.
For Hunt, he said he’s going to counseling twice a week. Not for anger issues necessarily — “I’m not an angry person at all. Definitely not,” he said — but to make better decisions to avoid any further issues.
“It definitely changed me a lot as a person, just becoming a stronger person and bettering myself and figuring out things I can work on to be better,” Hunt said.
Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie in 2017, said he didn’t know for a while if he’d get a second chance in the NFL. Then he said a few teams contacted him, but the Browns were close to home for him and he knew Cleveland general manager John Dorsey, who drafted him in Kansas City.
“I’m just grateful,” Hunt said. “I apologized for my actions in the past. I’m definitely, most certainly, not going to make those same mistakes.”
Hunt said he has to earn trust back
Hunt said he has spoken at high schools, telling students to think before acting and, again, making good decisions. Better decision making was a consistent theme over Hunt’s 18 minutes at the podium, though he never specified what that entailed.
Hunt also said he hasn’t apologized to the victim from the incident in the hotel, because he didn’t know how to get in touch with her, but would apologize if he saw her again.
Whatever Hunt said Wednesday, or what he says in interviews to come, won’t matter as much as what he does. He wouldn’t be the first player to have a troubling issue off the field but take advantage of a second chance.
But he said he knows his words won’t be what matters most.
“Only way, my actions,” Hunt said. “I’ve got to earn people’s trust back.”
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