Browns GM John Dorsey "was the face" of the team yesterday after the signing of RB Kareem Hunt, but the decision to bring in Hunt is "an organizational one" that includes coaches, front-office personnel and Browns co-Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, according to Dan Labbe of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Browns "can’t be held responsible" for Hunt's domestic violence incident that led to his release from the Chiefs, but in signing him, they "inherit the baggage and the public-relations fallout that comes from that night" last February. The Browns, with this signing, "declare from ownership on down, that talent and winning matter above all else." Dorsey, to his "credit, didn’t spend much time talking about football" yesterday. He instead talked about the "research that was done on Hunt" and about his "view of Hunt as a person and the remorse Hunt has shown" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12). In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot notes Dorsey "fully grasps the backlash he’ll receive from the signing, especially considering he’s been through it before." However, Dorsey yesterday "made it clear that Dee Haslam, who’s on the NFL Conduct committee, was on board with the decision." He said, "She’s part of ownership. At the end of the day, they approved it" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12).
WRONG DIRECTION? SI.com's Jenny Ventras wrote Hunt's signing "makes a statement on its own." While Dorsey’s decision to meet with the local media yesterday "may have been well-intentioned," his comments were "lacking in the depth and specificity for which the situation called" (SI.com, 2/11). In Cleveland, Doug Lesmerises writes Hunt "will write his own future" with the Browns, and Dorsey "will create his own standards." The Browns said that a zero-tolerance policy is in place, so if Hunt "breaks that and is cut, everyone can tell the Browns 'we told you so' and move on." The franchise "will face easy and earned criticism" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12). THE ATHLETIC's Zac Jackson wrote there is "no way to spin" the move as "anything besides a risk the Browns didn’t need to take." There was "no right thing Dorsey could say" to explain it. Going forward, he "just has to be right." All Dorsey can "work and hope for is wins, lots of them" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/11). NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes said the signing is a “risky move in a number ways,” including a “potential fan base alienation” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 2/11). FS1's Jason Whitlock: "Bad look for the Browns and the NFL." He added this "desperation will not land well with a segment" of the league's fan base (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 2/11). In Akron, Marla Ridenour in a front-page piece writes, "What bothers me more is the path the Browns have taken under Dorsey." The team "hired Mike Priefer as special teams coach despite a homophobic slur he made" in '12. Dorsey in the '18 Draft "traded up in the fourth round" to select WR Antonio Callaway, whose "past was littered with red flags." But drafting Callaway "fit with Dorsey’s MO as Chiefs GM, when he overlooked the baggage and selected" WR Tyreek Hill. The Browns are "turning a blind eye to character issues" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/12). ESPN’s Clinton Yates: “It’s not like the Browns have built up enough capital with their fans to be making moves like this” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/11).
ONE LAST CHANCE: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes as the NFL deals with domestic violence cases moving forward, Commissioner Roger Goodell "can issue lengthy suspensions ... and tout all the money the league has donated to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, and it will do little good unless owners get on board." If Hunt or the Browns "fall short anywhere, then the NFL steps in." Some team was "always going to sign" Hunt. Now that the Browns have, it is "up to them and the NFL to ensure more good comes out of it than a few touchdowns and 100-yard games" (USA TODAY, 2/12).