Browns General Manager John Dorsey is standing firm in his belief that signing troubled running back Kareem Hunt Monday was the right thing to do.
“We did our investigation . . . and we feel comfortable moving forward,” he said late Monday, emphasizing this was an organizational decision. “At the end of the day, it’s a Cleveland Browns decision.” That ostensibly means everyone from top to bottom.
The response by Browns Nation, the constituency the club cares most about, was pretty much as expected. Reaction was swift and decidedly mixed. Color that constituency conflicted.
There are those, admittedly the minority, who believe Dorsey is shortsighted in his attempt to improve the club’s roster. That he’ll go to any lengths to do so. Winning trumps everything else, including violence against women.
Hunt, an emerging young superstar on the National Football League horizon, has abused women in the past and been involved in three separate incidents that landed him on the wrong side of the law.
That does not sit well with a segment of the club’s fans. They believe beating up women and generally behaving like a thug off the field should not be rewarded, at least by the Browns.
There are also those, the majority, who really don’t care about the past and welcome Hunt with open arms under any circumstances. As long as it strengthens the team in the future, what difference does it make?
They see past (ignore?) his indiscretions and see only what he has accomplished in the NFL in a brief period of time and picture him doing the very same thing with the Browns.
They don’t care how he comports himself off the field. All they see is one of the bright young stars of the NFL wearing the Seal Brown and Orange and playing for his hometown team.
Then there are those who believe in second chances and would welcome someone with Hunt’s immense talent. That kind of rationale sort of justifies the decision so long as it helps the Browns.
It is clear, especially given Dorsey’s track record of drafting and signing players with troubled pasts, that one of his philosophies is nothing ventured, nothing gained. He is a bit of a maverick in that vein.
Each NFL club does its due diligence when it comes to the college football draft, the future of the league. All players are vetted in an effort to stem the growing tide of domestic and substances abuse, as well as assault in general.
Some miscreants slip through the cracks. Hunt is one of them, having lied to the Kansas City Chiefs (when Dorsey was the general manager there) about one of his incidents, which ended with his release.
Players have a tough time understanding they represent their teams at all times on and off the field. Misbehaving off the field reflects not only on them personally, but on their employer as well.
Fans who abhor the Hunt signing have pushed back through social media outlets. The Browns no doubt expected some pushback with such a controversial move. That’s where the conflict kicks in.
The latter segment of fans, some of whom own season tickets, has suffered with this franchise through the last two decades. And now that the club is on the verge of busting through and representing Cleveland as no one has for the last 35 years, the Hunt thing emerges.
They are further bothered that Dorsey admits he has not tried to speak with the victim of one of Hunt’s attacks. That’s a concern that troubles them to the point where the only way they can fight back is with their wallets.
In the meantime, the Browns can only hope the passage of time will be the great separator for this public relations imbroglio.