Kareem Hunt timeline: The video, the NFL investigation and the RB's contract with the Browns

Sporting News

A couple months before the 2017 NFL Draft, running back Kareem Hunt, a product of the Cleveland suburbs who played college football at nearby Toledo, made clear he would love to play for the Browns. "I’ve been a Browns fan growing up," Hunt told reporters at the NFL Combine. "I’ll be a Browns fan 'til I'm done playing football."

Hunt, now 24 and in his third NFL season, plays for the Browns. Yet his return to Cleveland did not come in a way he would have anticipated or desired.

Hunt was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the draft, and the rookie year in which he led the NFL in rushing yards ended up being the only full season he played in Kansas City. Toward the end of his second year, a video released by TMZ showed Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in an incident that had occurred roughly nine months prior. The Chiefs promptly released the Pro-Bowl running back, and a couple months later, the Browns signed him to a one-year contract despite the inevitablity that would become an eight-game suspension in 2019.

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Because the timeline of events that occurred between that incident in February of 2018 and Hunt's return to the field with the Browns last week, it's difficult to remember what all transpired in the Hunt saga, including how the NFL failed under its own policy while investigating him. Below is a refresher.

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Kareem Hunt timeline

— April 28, 2017: The Chiefs draft Hunt in the third round of the NFL Draft. He goes on to lead the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie.

— Feb. 10, 2018: A woman, Abigail Ottinger, tells police Hunt "pushed and shoved" her during a dispute in a Cleveland hotel apartment. Ottinger claims she and a friend were kicked out out of Hunt's apartment because she "didn't want" one of the other men. Hotel security is is summoned and police are called, but no charges are filed.

— June 3, 2018: Hunt allegedly punches a man in the face after a verbal dispute at an Ohio resort, according to TMZ. A resort official confirms to TMZ there was an incident involving Hunt and the alleged victim. Hunt is not arrested.

— Nov. 30, 2018: The Chiefs cut Hunt, who has been placed on the Commissioner's exempt list, soon after video of the February incident is released by TMZ. The team later acknowledges it was aware of an incident involving Hunt but claims it was lied to about the details. The video shows various angles of Hunt appearing to shove and and kick a woman. Hunt apologizes in a statement: "I deeply regret what I did. I hope to move on from this." The Cleveland Police Department says it had not seen the video prior to its release by TMZ because "detectives only follow up on felonies; this is a misdemeanor."

— Dec. 2, 2018: ESPN reports the NFL did not interview Hunt as part of its investigation into the February incident. The league says it spoke to "as many witnesses who were there as possible and that they said Hunt was not involved in the incident." Per ESPN, "The NFL believes it did everything possible from a legal standpoint. The league could not subpoena the hotel or police for the video of the incident. The league, however, did have the police report. And Hunt spoke to the Chiefs about the incident. Yet after reviewing the police report and speaking to the Chiefs following their discussions with Hunt, no action was taken, leading up to the video that was released."

— Dec. 2, 2018: Hunt breaks his silence a few days after the video's release. In an exclusive interview with ESPN's Lisa Salters, he reiterates his apology, saying he's "definitely not that type of person" and that he knows "right from wrong" after being raised by his mother. He calls himself "extremely embarrassed because of that video."

— Dec. 2, 2018: The NFL releases a statement claiming the "investigation began immediately following the incident in February" and that the league "continues to pursue a complete understanding of the facts."

— Dec. 3, 2018: NFL Media reports the league is investigating Hunt for the June incident in which he allegedly punched a man. This investigation is in addition to the NFL's continued probe of the February incident.

— Dec. 3, 2018: A few days after he is released by the Chiefs, Hunt goes unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent. NFL Media reports several teams considered claiming Hunt but chose not to make a move.

— Dec. 3, 2018: TMZ, citing a police report filed January 11th, reports Hunt was involved in a third incident; a man claiming he was attacked by Hunt and other members of the Chiefs organization at a Kansas City night club on the night the Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs. Hunt was not arrested.

— Dec. 6, 2018: Cleveland police open an internal investigation into the response of Hunt's case and allegations of assault after video from the February incident is released. One item police are investigating is how the NFL obtained a copy of the Feb. 10 assault report.

— Dec. 10, 2018: NFL Media reports Hunt has entered counseling for alcohol and anger management.

— Dec. 10, 2018: In his first public comments since Hunt's release, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt says the team knew "about all three of the incidents he'd had in the offseason. They’d all been reported to the NFL and the NFL was investigating. ... “We were obviously shocked by the video, like anybody who saw it. We had some issues with Kareem not being truthful about what had happened that night."

— Jan. 20, 2019: NFL Media reports the league's Hunt investigation is expected to conclude before 2019 free agency begins in March.

— Feb. 11, 2019: The Browns sign Hunt, who is still being investigated by the NFL and faces a suspension, to a one-year contract. NFL Media reports that Hunt's base salary is for the minimum with nothing guaranteed. Browns GM John Dorsey releases a statement: “We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions. Given what we know about Kareem through our extensive research, we believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with the understanding that he has to go through critical and essential steps to become a performing member of this organization, aside from what the NFL determines from their ongoing investigation. We fully understand that Kareem is subject to discipline by the NFL."

— March 15, 2019: The NFL suspends Hunt eight games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. In a statement, Hunt's agent claims he will not appeal the suspension.

— May 19, 2019: Hunt gets baptized in Cleveland with Dorsey and new Browns coach Freddie Kitchens reportedly surprising him at his baptism. Hunt had been looking forward to his baptism so he could "feel reborn."

— July 1, 2019: TMZ reports Hunt was seen on video speaking with police officers following an alleged incident at a party at the Barley House in Cleveland. The report notes Hunt was not detained or arrested, and he left the establishment without incident after one witness claimed he was "involved in a physical altercation with another man." Barley House owner Bobby George tells WKYC3 the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that Hunt was "very respectful."

— Aug. 29, 2019: Hunt, who has been able to practice with the Browns and play in preseason games before his eight-game suspension begins in the regular season, undergoes surgery to repair a sports hernia injury. The team says "a full recovery is anticipated prior to his return to action in Week 10 of the regular season."

— Oct. 21., 2019: The NFL clears Hunt to practice with the Browns even though he still has two games left on his eight-game suspension.

— Nov. 10., 2019: Hunt makes his regular-season debut with the Browns in a 19-16 win over the Bills. He records 30 rushing yards on four carries.

Kareem Hunt video

The video changed everything. Again.

Hunt was released by the Chiefs in December of 2018 hours after TMZ released the above surveillance footage of a February 2018 incident in which Hunt shoved and kicked a woman. He was placed on the Commissioner Exempt List before Kansas City released him ... again, after the video had been released, nine months after the incident.

That raised questions about the NFL's investigation and its policy on such assault-related incidents. "Actual or threatened physical violence against another person" is included as prohibited conduct under the NFL's personal conduct policy. Hunt clearly engaged in conduct that violates the policy and was subject to discipline. Yet because that fact was only acknowledged upon the release of the surveillance footage, many compared the NFL's handling of the Hunt incident to the mess it created with its handling of the Ray Rice incident in 2014.

As it did then with Rice, the league in the Hunt case came off as passive in its investigation until the video was released. The league claimed could not subpoena the hotel or police for the video of the incident.

Prior to the video's release by TMZ, the Cleveland Police Department said it had not seen the video because "detectives only follow up on felonies; this is a misdemeanor."

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