Hunting Season Over: The Rise and Fall of Kareem Hunt

(COVINGTON, La.) — Kareem Hunt is a former NFL Running back of the Kansas City Chiefs and is one of the most special talents at his position in this generation. After an injury propelled him into a starting role for his NFL debut, he exploded for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. Later that season, he was named to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl after leading the league in rushing yards. On November 30, 2018, news site TMZ released a video from a hotel camera that allegedly showed Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman. Hours later, the Chiefs front office waived Kareem Hunt, making the 23 year old Toledo product free to sign with any other team.

Kareem Hunt celebrates after scoring in a Monday Night Football showdown against the Los Angeles Rams (Photo- Sports Illustrated)

Kareem Hunt was born in rural Ohio and attended South High School in Willoughby, Ohio. He broke almost every major football school record. He then committed to play at nearby Toledo University. In his senior year, Hunt led the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) in rushing attempts as well as rushing yards. He ended up also setting the Toledo record for career rushing yards.

Hunt was selected 86th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City drafted him with the initial intention of using him as a change of pace option behind then-starter Spencer Ware. In the third preseason game, however, Ware suffered a season-ending knee injury, forcing Hunt to shoulder a much heavier workload than he and the Chiefs expected. On his first NFL carry, against the the then-defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, Hunt lost a fumble despite never losing a single fumble in his 4 year collegiate career as a Toledo Rocket. The rest of the 2017 is history, as Hunt led the Chiefs to a 10-6 record as well as a playoff spot.

Hunt retained his game breaking abilities as the 2018 Season was in full swing. He and breakout second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes had led the Chiefs to 1st place in the conference.

Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt then decided to release Kareem Hunt following public backlash after a video of a violent incident with one of Kareem’s female acquaintances went viral. 2 days later, after being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, Kareem Hunt cleared waivers, which meant no team was willing to roll the dice and face the negative PR that the signing of Hunt would bring.

It is truly a bold move by the AFC-leading chiefs, as this is likely their best chance to win the Super Bowl in 50 years. Giving up on a cost-controlled superstar on a rookie deal in their prime is also extremely audacious decision by the front office.

Kareem Hunt speeds by an Iowa State defender en route to breaking Chester Taylor’s Toledo rushing record (Photo- arrowheadpride.com)

The news comes just days after second year Linebacker Reuben Foster was claimed off waivers by the Washington Redskins after being released by the San Francisco 49ers after multiple domestic violence offenses, and just a year and a half after he was a first round draft choice. None of his offenses, however, were ever linked to video evidence. The Redskins faced brutal backlash from the public as well as the media for this action, as has been the typical public reception for moves such as these.

In March 2014, now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested for assaulting his fiancee. This incident relates to Kareem Hunt because the main reason Ray Rice never was given a second chance in the NFL again, despite being reinstated by the league, was because of the gruesome video that came along with Rice’s crime.

Obviously video evidence changed everything when it comes to situations like these, as Foster was given another NFL job just days after his release, while Rice never played an NFL snap after the 2013 season even despite publicly pledging any salary he would receive to charity.

A big difference between Hunt and Rice though, is talent. Ray Rice was 27 years of age when he was suspended from the NFL and clearly in the beginning of a decline in productivity. Kareem Hunt, however, would slide in as just about any team’s workhorse back with plenty of years of upside ahead of him, as he is only 23. If he ever resurfaces in the league, any team that signs him would indisputably be getting a special talent that can put a running back needy team over the top

Even though Kareem Hunt is looking at a lengthy suspension as discipline from the NFL when everything is sorted out, his talent is likely enough to get him a second chance.

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