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Silver Linings And Risks For Browns In Kareem Hunt Signing

New of the Browns’ signing of former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt had USA Today Sports columnist Nancy Armour looking for a silver lining.  Hunt faces suspension by the NFL for three violent, off-field incidents, including one last year in which he shoved and kicked a woman in the hallway of the Metropolitan at the Nine Hotel in Downtown Cleveland.  In an opinion piece last week, Armour said it’s fruitless to boycott the Browns for the message they’re sending by signing Hunt.   She thinks there’s a possible silver lining here.  She spoke with me from Chicago.

You wrote that banishing Hunt from the NFL forever doesn’t do him or anyone else any good.  Why does Hunt’s signing with the Browns offer a potential good outcome?

The Browns have said that, going forward, they have a zero tolerance policy with him, going forward, and that they've also required Kareem to go through counseling and maintain a rehabilitation program.  If they are sincere about wanting to get him help, about wanting to provide a sports sytem for him, then, yes, this is potentially a good thing.  Incidents like this is learned behavior.  This didn't happen overnight.  So you need to break the cycle of violence somehow, not just because it looks good for the Browns but because you need this for Kareem Hunt as a person. He's going to be out of the NFL a lot longer than he's going to be in it. 

You want the Browns to publicize the plans for Hunt.  I asked the Browns if they would do that.  They referred me to General Manager John Dorsey's previous statements.  What would that tell us, if we knew how exactly they were going to work with Hunt?

It would give some accountability.  It's very easy for them to say, 'Oh, yeah, we're holding Kareem accountable and we're going to work with him.' Well, okay, then what are you doing? What specifically are you doing? Let the public be the judge of whether that's actual help and support or whether you're trotting out what you think the public wants to hear to justify a controversial signing.

I asked listeners what they thought.  Notably, two women called and said they were disappointed in the Browns.  One said "paying him to work for you is, de facto, approval of who he is and what he does.'  Dorsey has said he's appalled and that Hunt's action at the Nine was 'an egregious act.'  Is this a ratings risk for the Browns, and the NFL, given how many women watch football?

Not just watch football but studies have shown women make 80 percent of the purchasing decisions in their household.  You cannot turn off and treat half of your viewing audience and the people making the decisions on who's buying what jerseys, you can't alienate them.  We're seen more and more over the last couple of years that women are standing up and saying, 'this kind of behavior is not appropriate and we're not going to tolerate it, we're not going to support people who enable it.'

I'm not the first to notice this, but there seemed to be more controversy over a blown call in the New Orleans Saints - Los Angeles Rams playoff game.

Absolutely.  It says a lot about what we feel and what importance we place on violence and how you treat people, particularly women.  And it's something that we as a society need to do a better job, not just in terms of holding athletes accountable, but everybody accountable.

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