The Browns signed Hunt a few months after a video from February 2018 was released that showed him shoving and kicking a woman during an early-morning altercation outside his downtown Cleveland residence.
The video, and the fact that Hunt had lied about it, prompted the Kansas City Chiefs to release the running back.
“Kareem has to be willing, has to show remorse and be willing to make a change,” Kitchens told the media at the combine in Indianapolis. “And he’s shown us that. It could be in Kansas City, Cleveland, that doesn’t matter.
“In a lot of ways, you know, it’s more important for Kareem to make those advances and to evolve into a better person in his hometown. That’s where he’s going to do the most good.
“There’s some good that can come out of this. We never justify anything that’s happened. But there’s some good that can come out of this if he keeps evolving and keeps doing the things he’s supposed to do to become a better person. And we’ll worry about the football stuff later. But right now we’re in the Kareem Hunt business of making him a better person.”
Hunt, who grew up in Willoughby, outside Cleveland, signed a one-year contract with the Browns on Feb. 12.
He faces a significant suspension from the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy. He remains on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Hunt’s family in the Cleveland area has had its share of legal issues. His father was arrested in January and charged with selling crack cocaine, according to Cleveland.com. USA Today reported in December that Hunt’s father has been arrested at least 35 times and has been sentenced to prison terms for drug-related offenses.
He also has been arrested on charges of domestic violence, and Hunt’s mother, brother and stepfather have also been arrested and convicted for various offenses, including cocaine possession and drug trafficking, USA Today reported.
The Browns said Hunt sought counseling before they signed him, and he has committed to continue with counseling in the future. Kitchens said over and over that Hunt has told him he’s “remorseful” about what happened.
“Now it’s our job to move forward and support him and get him to a place as an individual and as a person to give him the opportunity, a second chance, per se,” Kitchen said. “The second chance is not now. He’s got a lot of work to do between now and that time the second chance comes. We’ll see how that goes. Right now we’re day to day and just trying … to offer him support where he needs to become a better person to get him eventually on the field.”
Kitchens said that Nick Chubb is the Browns’ primary running back. He also acknowledged that the decision to sign Hunt might not be “accepted in a positive nature” by everyone.
“But in saying that, it’s those issues that you can have the biggest growth too,” Kitchens said. “Let’s don’t forget that this is a people business and we’re in the people-building business and then we’ll get to the football later. But our foremost thing right now for Kareem Hunt is to offer him support to be the man that he wants to be, and that’s where we’re at.”