• by: Phil Cantor/@osgphil

Are the Browns Right or Wrong for Signing Kareem Hunt?


Should a 23-year old Professional Football player lose his career over an incident caught on tape showing him shoving a woman though he never was charged?? For a lot of people, it's an easy question to answer....particularly since it involved an athlete in an era where one minute of horrifically bad judgement now leads to a lifetime label.

Don't get me wrong--I'm using Hunt as an example. In no way, shape or form do I condone or slough off the clearly bad decision he made. For someone in the spotlight, you walk away from any kind of incident that could come back and haunt you.

But is that easier said than done?

Hunt lost his job with the Kansas City Chiefs because of what happened and his unwillingness to let the Chiefs know what had happened. The Chiefs were within their rights and took what I'd say was appropriate action despite Hunt being an All-Pro level running back and one of the very best players on their team.

It was announced on Monday, the Cleveland Browns, the closest thing to a hometown team for Hunt, who is from Willoughby, Ohio (nearby) and went to college at Toledo.

The criticism of the Browns started within seconds.

Hunt is currently on the Commissioner's Exempt list and will eventually serve a suspension for his actions which came to light after TMZ got ahold of video showing him coming out of his apartment and violently shoving a then 19-year old who---depending on who's version of the story you believe, wouldn't leave after a night of drinking and partying with Hunt and his friends.

ESPN's Outside the Lines summarizes Hunt's problems in this report...

None of this is in question and Hunt should be punished for the incident. Period. There is no debate over this fact.

The question is this: Does that warrant him never playing again in the NFL?? I for one, do not think so. And yes, I know I'll likely garner some heat for saying this. That heat wouldn't totally be wrong, but hear me out.

My point is how or when do we move past or forgive people for mistakes they made? And how do we get to that point? The current world in which we live seemingly holds every and anyone with a visible public persona guilty of bad judgement or doing something they clearly should not have done as guilty and worthy of a lifetime sentence.

But why?

Is it a standard those who say a losing your career is only fair, hold themselves to? No, I don't believe it is.

Why....and how does an athlete or a public figure become forgiven? Or do they ever get forgiven?

I don't think they do. Athlete's and public figures in many cases are held to a certain level of standards not given to the general public or those complaining the loudest about those same athletes.

It is possible for an Athlete or public figure to apologize, admit, learn or grow from the errors of their way. But how can they do that if those in the public don't allow them to move forward?

Think about this for minute, in the summer of 2018, at least a half-dozen Major League Baseball players got drawn into the mess for things they Tweeted as teenagers---or younger. No, it doesn't make what they did right, but consider for just a minute the age and backgrounds of these people before you pass judgement. Kids in the rising generation put and post things on Social Media that most people my age would never for a minute consider or think is worthy of putting out there for the world to see.

But it happens---every minute of every day.

Most NFL players are very young black males who come from backgrounds where accepted behavior may have been different than the way you were raised. They often have never had to act or behave the same way you did growing up.

It doesn't make or give them a pass for bad behavior, but it does in many cases explain it. Young kids and immature men sometimes do things or say things or make decisions they clearly shouldn't be doing or making.

But they do it anyway.

And that decision in some cases cost that individual their career.

Listen, I have friends who still think Michael Vick should never be allowed on or near a football field or have the ability to earn money in a career of any form for his gross mistreatment of dogs. And I hear them....I get their anger at him for what he did.

But the guy also served prison time, lost his job and money. His career didn't end, but he was never the same. My friends were angry to no end Vick got a chance to come back into the NFL after his time in prison.

Which I don't have a problem with, I get there argument, they are justified in their anger....But look at it this way: If you served a punishment or jail time for a crime, is that enough to warrant a lifetime ban from every having a public career? Is it not fair to say most everyone deserves an opportunity to reestablish your life or career. There should not be a stigma or ban on having someone the ability to have their own "Comeback" story.

Even every day, run of the mill criminals are supposed to serve prison time to be "Rehabilitated" and once that is over, should be integrated back into society. Society has made that difficult as someone with a criminal record will struggle to find employment. But it is, in theory possible to happen, some do find jobs and go on to live their lives stay out of trouble.

Which at the end of the day is why I don't have a problem with Kareem Hunt re-entering the NFL at some point in time.

It likely won't happen in 2019. The NFL, because it flubbed this investigation like many others---hasn't finished checking out what happened, hasn't yet determined what should happen to Hunt.

So he sits in limbo, on the Exempt list, unable to get paid, workout with a team or anything else.

Once the decision happens, he will be suspended, the question is only for how long. Jameis Winston of the Buccaneers lost 3 games after originally being sentenced to 6 games for a very bad incident with an Uber driver in which there wasn't even videotape. Hunt will lose at least that many games.

But Winston played the rest of the 2018 season after returning from suspension. And Hunt should get the same opportunity.

You can sit there behind your keyboard and say the Browns should have waited until the suspension was announced and you wouldn't be totally wrong. You can also legitimately ask why the Browns made the move. They have Nick Chubb who ran for nearly 1,000 yards and established himself as a top-flight running back and super-utility RB Duke Johnson already on the roster.

All legitimate questions.

But at the end of the day, it still goes back to this: Would Hunt be signed if not by the Browns, another team? The answer probably is and should be "Yes".

Don't hate the guy for what he did, it appears---at least publicly, he realizes the mistake he made. Granted, I don't know him personally so who am I to say. But then again, you don't know him either, so how can you say he doesn't understand what he did was wrong.

And that my friends is the whole point of this discussion.....

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