Following the release of a video in which former Kansas City Chiefs running back had a physical altercation with a woman in a hotel lobby, many were quick to reach the conclusion that he should never be allowed to play in the NFL again.
The Cleveland Browns had other ideas, as they signed him to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract earlier this offseason, and while they knew that a suspension would be coming, they have been in his corner and have been fighting for him along the way, despite the fact that he has never played a down for them and has no ties to the organization.
At least, outside of the fact that their general manager, John Dorsey, held the same position in Kansas City when he was drafted.
The NFL handed down an eight-game suspension for Hunt, and since then, Cleveland has fought to gain access to him during that time. yesterday, Commissioner Roger Goodell signaled that he was open to that possibility, and said that the league has allowed such access for longer suspensions in the past.
“I left open the door that maybe for a portion of the suspension, that I would allow access back into the facility in an earlier stage”, the commissioner told reporters at the annual league meeting. “We have done that frequently in the context of longer suspensions in the best interest of the player, so that a player can adjust back in, have the opportunity to get back into the workout routine including practices, potentially”.
Hunt is set to be part of a Browns backfield that features second-year Nick Chubb at its head with Duke Johnson as a complementary weapon whose strength as a receiver gives them a different dimension. The earliest that Hunt could join them on the field, however, is in the middle of the 2019 season.
A third-round pick in 2017, Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie en route to a Pro Bowl season, and was well on his way to another Pro Bowl year in 2018 before the video was released by TMZ and the Chiefs parted ways with him.
In 27 games played, he has recorded 2151 rushing yards on 453 carries with 15 rushing touchdowns. He also registered 79 receptions for an additional 833 yards with 10 receiving touchdowns. As a side note, Le’Veon Bell has seven receiving touchdowns for his entire career.
Whether he gets back on the field, or in the facility prior to the conclusion of his suspension, however, is up to him, as all parties have made clear. “A lot of that will be dependent on consistency with things we agreed to when I met with Kareem”, Goodell said.
“What we laid out and what we agreed to as far as using the resources of the league and the Players Association to make sure that he’s making better decisions going forward, and that was very clearly stated. I expect that will be the foundation of any decision I make on that point”.