Ill Will Hunting -- Browns beat Bears to the punch in signing Kareem Hunt

Having previously written about John Dorsey's penchant for taking low-level risks on low-character players, I was not in the least bit surprised when the Browns announced the signing of Kareem Hunt.  You didn't have to be Nostradamus to see that one coming. Combine John Dorsey's love for the chance to provide players a second chance with John Dorsey's never-failing love for his own draft picks and the signing was an inevitability.

Kareem Hunt fights through friend trying to restrain him 
to get to nineteen-year-old woman at the 9 in Cleveland.
Like the bulk of Dorsey's decisions with the Browns have turned out, the move is hard to find fault with from a football perspective.   The Browns acquire another talented football player at the cost of some negative public relations and little else.  The normal chatter around the league from its talking heads that these types of signings are reserved for strong franchises with strong locker rooms does not deter Dorsey.   He believes he already leads a strong franchise.  These are not Hue Jackson's Browns.   The young franchise quarterback is in place.   Ditto the young innovative coach that is not so big that he presently poses a threat to Dorsey's organizational power.   John Dorsey also has the trust of ownership and appears to have wrangled them away from football decision-making.  With Dorsey at the wheel, he probably asks himself how the Browns could be any more stable?

It is not like the Browns are standing in the way of Hunt's just punishment.  Let's face it: if Dorsey hadn't signed Hunt, another team would not have been far behind.  The Bears and Matt Nagy were already sniffing around,

Talk all they want about believing in giving players second chances, doling out those second chances is reserved for top football talent.  A marginal player doing the same would be tossed aside and forgotten without compassion for his personal struggles or rough upbringing.  History has shown that guys like Ezekiel Elliot get a slap on the wrist, a little negative press and hear the wild cheers of the crowd when they return.  All is forgotten and forgiven with their first big play. 

Embed from Getty Images

This is a solid decision toward the goal of making the Browns a more talented team.   That undoubtedly is (and must be) a general manager's primary focus. 

Where the Browns have got themselves a bit of a windfall, the NFL is staring down a clear and present crisis.  The cultural problem of violence against women in the NFL is an epidemic problem for an image-obsessed league that can't be ignored.  The Browns signing of Hunt is the latest in a long line of the league's tone-deaf response to an important social issue. 

The almost immediate signing of a player like Hunt by the Browns before the NFL had even completed any of its three investigations of Hunt physical assaults will do little to help deter this type of behavior in the future.  But it is unrealistic to expect teams to give up a competitive advantage when one presents itself -- and that is what the ability sign Kareem Hunt is for the Browns.   That the team is the Browns with a strong female owner who is active in the organization and holds a seat on the NFL's Personal Conduct Committee underscores this point.   If the same thing were to happen with, say Antonio Brown of the Steelers, is there any doubt that teams would be stepping over each other trying to sign him?

It is up to the NFL to send a strong message in this case where it is out there on tape and there is no doubt that the violence occurred.  No matter what the provocation was, there is no excuse for what Hunt did to that nineteen-year-old girl and it is reprehensible to hear anyone attempt to downplay his thuggish actions.  Yes, I said it.   Only a thug would lay hands on a woman who poses him no physical threat. 

This is a teaching moment for all of the players in the NFL.   The league suspension should be no shorter than one year (with time served for the regular season games he missed while on the Commissioner's exempt list).  Hunt should be required to submit to anger management counseling for the duration of his NFL career.  If the NFL can get it by the NFLPA, reinstatement should also be conditioned a public apology by Hunt to his victim demonstrating genuine remorse that is used as part of an NFL public service announcement.  Finally, if the Browns and the NFL license his jersey for sale, a large portion of the net proceeds should be donated to a local women's shelter in the Cleveland area.   Any second (or fourth as the case may be) offense committed by Hunt should result in a lifetime ban after due process is afforded by the league.

Is this a harsher penalty than what has been doled out in the past?  Probably.  NFL teams policed themselves with Ray Rice -- but it was because he had entered an unproductive stage of his career by that time.  The case against Ezekiel Elliot was not a strong one.   There was no video of the event and  the NFL's lead investigator recommended that he should not be suspended at all based on her interviews with the NFL's lead investigator of Elliot's accuser.

What the NFL does here not only sends a message to the locker rooms of all 32 teams -- it signals to the world what it values -- it shows its character.  An appropriate suspension gives the player a second opportunity to make amends and revive his career, but recognizes that membership in the NFL is a privilege that comes with responsibility.  Anything less is mere lip service.
Ill Will Hunting -- Browns beat Bears to the punch in signing Kareem Hunt Ill Will Hunting -- Browns beat Bears to the punch in signing Kareem Hunt Reviewed by AT Dawgger on 7:02 AM Rating: 5
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