Kareem Hunt looked the part Wednesday.
Whether he was sprinting through a crease or creating separation on routes against linebackers, Hunt looked every bit the Pro Bowler he was for the better part of two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s certainly something that excites Hunt’s teammates and coaches, but it’s not what drew the most appreciation in interviews an hour after the session.
In the months since Hunt was released by the Chiefs after a video surfaced of a February 2018 physical incident with a woman at a Cleveland hotel, the Browns running back has been committed to bettering himself away from the football field. It’s included regular counseling sessions and visits with area youths throughout the Cleveland area, where Hunt, himself, grew up.
“Go out there and let them know how important it is because I didn’t really have anybody come talk to me when I was in high school,” Hunt said Wednesday in his first media session since joining the Browns in February. “Give them somebody to look up to and explain that nobody’s perfect and you gotta learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistakes.
“It’s definitely changed me a lot as a person, just helping me become a stronger person and just bettering myself and figuring out things that I can work on to be better.”
Check out photos from the second day of OTA practices
In coach Freddie Kitchens’ eyes, talk of the benefits Hunt can bring to the Browns on the field can wait -- and it will, considering Hunt will be suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season. He’s consistently praised Hunt and the commitment he’s shown to righting the wrong that put his NFL career at risk, and that continued Wednesday -- roughly a month and a half since Hunt arrived for the start of the offseason workout program and truly started to embrace “the gratitude of a second chance.”
“What I really love more than anything about Kareem is the way he’s handling his business off the field,” Kitchens said. “He’s continuing to try to be the person he wants to be and that everybody here wants him to be. We’re going to continue supporting him in every way possible to do that. That’s first and foremost. Everyone knows what he can do on the field.
“The thing that doesn’t get publicized a lot is what he’s doing off the field and what he’s trying to do to get better as a person. He’s doing that, he’s continuing to do that and I don’t expect anything different from Kareem.”
In the months leading up to his signing with the Browns, Hunt said he had plenty of conversations with Browns general manager John Dorsey, who drafted Hunt while serving in the same position with the Chiefs. Dorsey told Hunt to stay positive and, most importantly, not make the same mistake again.
When the Browns made the signing official, Hunt delivered a promise to Dorsey.
“I told him, 'You can trust me.' I've got to earn his trust, and I've got to earn everybody's trust in the whole organization,” Hunt said. “I'm not willing to mess that up."
Months remain before Hunt can carry the ball in a game that counts for the Browns, and every day brings a new set of challenges. Hunt made it clear he understands one press conference can’t wash away the circumstances that led him to Cleveland, but he said he’s committed to improving himself just as much off the field as he’s done for years on the field.
“The only way is my actions,” Hunt said. “Just going to take it day-by-day. I’ve got to earn people’s trust back and my actions are going to show.”