KEY WEST, Fla. — As I headed outside to look at the ocean on the first full day of vacation, I was reminded of two truths.
Browns news never goes on vacation.
And talent trumps just about anything in the NFL.
I pulled the phone — the one I’m trying to ignore in paradise — out of my pocket to check the time and was blindsided by the text and email that the Browns had signed troubled running back Kareem Hunt.
I shouldn’t have been surprised.
General manager John Dorsey drafted Hunt in Kansas City, so the connection was obvious. More relevant, Dorsey isn’t afraid to take a risk on a player with character issues. Even frightening ones.
Dorsey has made this clear throughout his time as GM, with the Chiefs and Browns.
He drafted receiver Tyreek Hill in the fifth round in 2016 despite him pleading guilty to choking his pregnant girlfriend. Dorsey traded up to pick receiver Antonio Callaway last season in the fourth round in his first draft with the Browns, undeterred by a long list of off-field trouble, including a suspension for his final season at Florida for involvement in a credit card scam.
Hunt remains under investigation by the NFL for three incidents. The primary one took place at The 9 in downtown Cleveland and a video showed Hunt shoving and kicking a woman. He faces a lengthy suspension from the league.
Dorsey tried to say the right things Monday after signing Hunt. He called the actions at The 9 “egregious,” said he was “appalled” and promised the Browns would have a zero-tolerance policy with Hunt.
Dorsey also reiterated his deep belief in second chances.
I’m not here to say Hunt doesn’t deserve another opportunity. Dorsey knows him much better than I do and may truly see a good soul that can be saved.
But I find it disingenuous to put the focus on second chances, as if the Browns are taking the moral high ground.
NFL teams have cut players after an inadvertent hit of the quarterback in practice or an honest mistake that turns a win into a loss. Coaches and GMs can’t stand to look at that monster, but a guy who assaulted a woman before he was on their team deserves forgiveness and understanding.
I’m not condemning Dorsey or owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam for signing Hunt. But the news release announcing the move could’ve contained only a two-line quote: “Kareem Hunt is immensely talented, therefore the Browns have chosen to ignore his previous behavior. We hope he doesn’t make us look bad for taking this chance.”
Hunt is probably a top-five running back in the NFL. If he stays on the field and out of trouble, he makes the Browns better.
It’s that simple. It’s all about the talent. It always is.