Hunt ad­mits to ly­ing to Chiefs

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - SPORTS - DAVE SKRETTA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt ac­knowl­edged that he mis­led the Kansas City Chiefs about his role in a Fe­bru­ary as­sault in a Cleve­land ho­tel that ul­ti­mately led to his re­lease this week.

Dur­ing a live in­ter­view with ESPN on Sun­day, the NFL’s reign­ing rush­ing cham­pion also said that league of­fi­cials never spoke to him about the in­ci­dent while con­duct­ing their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and that he never saw the se­cu­rity cam­era video un­til TMZ Sports posted it Fri­day.

In the course of a few hours, Hunt went from pre­par­ing for Sun­day’s game in Oak­land to be­ing sent home from the prac­tice fa­cil­ity. He was then placed on the NFL’s Com­mis­sioner Ex­emp­tion List, sum­moned back to the team fa­cil­ity and told that he was be­ing re­leased.

“They be­lieved that I lied to them. I lied to them,” Hunt said. “They pretty much said we love you, ev­ery­body cares about you, and just we have to let you go. It was a tough con­ver­sa­tion. And the Chiefs did what was right. I made a poor de­ci­sion and I’m will­ing to take full re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

In the grainy, graphic video, Hunt is seen get­ting into an ar­gu­ment with a woman and sev­eral men step in to hold him back. He later pushes one of the men, knock­ing down a woman that Hunt ad­mit­ted he did not know, and even­tu­ally kicks her while she lays on the ground.

“The Chiefs are right. I didn’t tell them ev­ery­thing,” Hunt said. “My ac­tions caused this and I re­ally wish I could apol­o­gize to them and let them know there’s no hard feel­ings.”

The video brought im­me­di­ate com­par­isons to the footage of for­mer Ravens run­ning back Ray Rice, who was seen punch­ing out his then-fi­ancee in an el­e­va­tor. That in­ci­dent led to a lengthy le­gal saga, and it cul­mi­nated in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Robert Mueller into the NFL’s mis­han­dling of it.

The league even­tu­ally hired more staff to con­duct such in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and an­nounced it would take a more ac­tive role in han­dling sim­i­lar cases in the fu­ture.

The NFL made mul­ti­ple at­tempts to ob­tain the video of Hunt, but the ho­tel said cor­po­rate pol­icy only al­lowed footage to be given to law en­force­ment. The NFL then con­tacted Cleve­land po­lice, but the depart­ment said Satur­day it did not pur­sue the video be­cause it was not a felony-level case.

When asked whether the NFL spoke di­rectly to Hunt about it, he replied: “No, they have not.”

The NFL said in a state­ment Sun­day that its in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ci­dent in Fe­bru­ary and that the league “con­tin­ues to pur­sue a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the facts.”

“The NFL’s on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion will in­clude fur­ther at­tempts to speak to the com­plainants in­volved in the in­ci­dent,” the state­ment said. “It will in­clude a re­view of the new in­for­ma­tion that was made pub­lic on Fri­day — which was not avail­able to the NFL pre­vi­ously — as well as fur­ther con­ver­sa­tions with all par­ties in­volved in the in­ci­dent.”

The state­ment did not say whether the league at­tempted to con­tact Hunt.

Hunt said he’d just pur­chased an apart­ment in the Cleve­land ho­tel and had sev­eral friends over, and that he did not know the woman in­volved in the as­sault. Hunt said the ar­gu­ment came at the end of “a long night” and that “it was just a dis­agree­ment. I hon­estly wanted her just to leave.”

“That’s not an ex­cuse,” he said. “I’m not that per­son in that video.”

Hunt pointed out that he was raised by his mother and grand­mother, and they “they al­ways taught me well. I know right from wrong and I’m a per­son that al­ways wants to make ev­ery­one happy.”

Still, Hunt has been in trou­ble be­fore. He was sus­pended dur­ing his ju­nior sea­son at Toledo for a vi­o­la­tion of team rules, and he was ac­cused of a sec­ond, un­re­lated as­sault over the sum­mer.

As in the case with the ho­tel in­ci­dent, no charges were filed in that case.

“I re­gret the en­tire thing, ev­ery­thing,” Hunt said. “I’m go­ing to take the time to bet­ter my­self, learn from this, get some help if needed, talk to peo­ple and re­ally just take this re­ally se­ri­ous.”

Hunt ad­mit­ted that anger “could be an is­sue” and that he wants to get treat­ment, and Rice told NFL Net­work on Satur­day that he would of­fer his help and ex­pe­ri­ence in mov­ing for­ward.

“I would def­i­nitely try to help him fig­ure out, ‘How can we start deal­ing with the un­der­ly­ing prob­lems in your life?’ ” Rice said. “He has a long life to live, this will be a defin­ing mo­ment, but it shouldn’t be the mo­ment that de­fines you.”

Hunt said he isn’t sure that another NFL team will give him a chance, though adding a 23-year-old stand­out could be worth the pub­lic back­lash for a team in need of help.

Af­ter lead­ing the NFL in rush­ing last sea­son, Hunt had al­ready run for more than 800 yards while scor­ing 14 touch­downs in help­ing the Chiefs to a 9-2 record. He also had proven to be a pop­u­lar player in the locker room, of­ten at­tend­ing sport­ing events and other func­tions with his team­mates.

Of course, that was be­fore the ho­tel se­cu­rity video sur­faced.

Hunt re­mains on the ex­empt list, which means a team could sign him but he would be un­able to play or at­tend games un­til the league’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete. The Red­skins made a sim­i­lar move — and ac­cepted the pub­lic back­lash — when they signed line­backer Reuben Fos­ter, who had been cut by the 49ers af­ter he was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Fos­ter also re­mains on the ex­empt list and the Red­skins have ac­knowl­edged he may never play for them. But by sign­ing him, they re­tain his rights should he make it back to the field.

“Ev­ery­thing is hap­pen­ing fast right now and I just want ev­ery­body to for­give me,” Hunt said. “I know it’s go­ing to be hard. I made a bad choice . ... I think I de­serve it be­cause if you re­ally know me, and ev­ery­body that I’m re­ally close to — I’ve had re­ally close women who are friends — I’m so re­spect­ful to ev­ery­one. I made a bad de­ci­sion at that time and I just hope that peo­ple for­give me.”

MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kansas City Chiefs run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt scores a touch­down ahead of Los An­ge­les Rams free safety Lamar­cus Joyner as Chiefs of­fen­sive guard Cameron Erv­ing looks on dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game, on Mon­day, Nov. 19, in Los An­ge­les.

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