Kareem Hunt was a prospect with a promising NFL career when the Chiefs took him in the third round of the 2017 draft. But like many young players before him — including the recent example of first-round pick Johnny Manziel — Hunt may be jeopardizing his career because of poor decisions he’s making off the field.
Those off-the-field issues may have cost Hunt a Super Bowl ring, as the Chiefs released him during the 2018 season. And if he’s not careful, his actions away from the gridiron may even cost him his career.
Kareem Hunt gets a good start to his career
The Chiefs immediately gave Hunt the bulk of their rushing workload as a rookie, and he ran the ball 272 times for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns. He was also a big part of the passing game, catching 53 balls for 455 yards and three more scores.
That performance was good enough to earn Hunt an invitation to the Pro Bowl as a rookie — and that was with Alex Smith leading the offense as the starting quarterback, as rookie Patrick Mahomes essentially red-shirted that season until starting in Week 17.
He continued performing well deep into the 2018 season. In the 11 games he played, he ran for 824 yards on 181 carries, finding the endzone seven times on the ground, and he also had seven more touchdowns through the air, as part of his 26 receptions.
Released by the Chiefs and suspended by the NFL
The Week 11 game in 2018 would be Hunt’s final time suiting up for the Chiefs. They released him on November 30 of that year after video surfaced of Hunt assaulting a woman the previous February.
The Browns signed him that offseason, and about a month later the NFL announced that Hunt would be suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He made his season debut in Week 10 but didn’t see much action playing behind starter Nick Chubb.
Hunt had 43 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns, with another 37 receptions for 285 yards and a score. Hunt also wasn’t as effective as he was the Chiefs, with his yards per attempt average dropping more than half-a-yard from his rookie season, and his longest run being just 16 yards — down from 63 yards and 46 yards in his first two seasons.
Kareem Hunt’s latest legal trouble and NFL future
In January, Hunt was pulled over by police during a traffic stop in Ohio. He was pulled over in Rocky River, a Cleveland suburb, on suspicion of speeding. During the stop, he was found to have an open container of vodka in the car.
When the officer smelled marijuana in the car, he took Hunt to his police cruiser and searched Hunt’s vehicle, ultimately finding marijuana in a backpack with the running back’s name on it. Then when the officer went back to the cruiser to show Hunt the weed, Hunt initially said it was his brothers.
When the officer pressed him about whether he would fail a drug test, Hunt admitted that he would, saying “it’s the offseason” and that he “was having a good time.” Despite finding the marijuana, the cop only cited Hunt for the speeding violation.
The question is will this latest issue affect Hunt’s status in the league. If it was his first time finding trouble off the field, maybe not — especially since he wasn’t cited for the drugs. But given the domestic violence incident, he had earlier in his career, Hunt may face a second suspension when commissioner Roger Goodell reaches a decision about what to do with him. If he is suspended again, it wouldn’t be surprising if it is for longer than eight games — and it could be for the entire 2020 season.