Kareem Hunt had two familiar faces in the congregation Sunday when he was baptized at a local church.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey, in their continued efforts to help Hunt better himself away from the field, surprised the running back at a ceremony he believed would help him feel “reborn.”
“We wanted to make sure he felt supported as a person,” Kitchens said Monday in Rocky River at the 20th annual Cleveland Browns Foundation golf tournament.
“That's what I told him and what John told him when he first got here. I care about Kareem Hunt 50 years from now, what's going to make him have a better chance of succeeding in life 50 years from now. That's not lip service from me and it's not lip service from John Dorsey. From time to time, you've got to show that. In showing that, you're showing it for the person again. You're not showing it to prove a point. We showed up there to support him as a person.
“The thing we did yesterday was not about football at all. It was about Kareem as a person. That's where it's going to start with us. I've said that from the get-go.”
Since the Browns signed Hunt in February, Kitchens and Dorsey have talked little about Hunt as a player.
The focus has centered on helping Hunt turn his personal life around in the wake of a a February 2018 physical incident with a woman at a Cleveland hotel. When video of the incident came to light in November, Hunt, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season and seemingly on the way to another, was promptly released by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Since he arrived in Cleveland, Hunt has pursued atonement through a variety of avenues, including regular counseling sessions and visits with area youths throughout the Cleveland area, where Hunt, himself, grew up.
“I’m just taking it very seriously,” Hunt said last week. “Day by day, I’m just making the best decisions at the time and place. And doing everything I can and prevent something like that from happening again.”
It’s a day-by-day process that remains a long way from when Hunt, who is suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season, can return to the field. Kitchens and Dorsey have made it clear they like what they’ve seen thus far, but all parties understand it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“Kareem understands the things that happened and nobody's going to dispute that,” Kitchens said. “It's a new day for you, it's a new day for me every time we wake up. You either get better or you get worse. Kareem understands that. He's doing a good job of staying in the moment and continuing to strive to get better and making choices each and every day. I think yesterday was just another step for him to do that.”
Check out photos from the third day of OTA practices