Kitchens: Browns support Hunt 'as a person'

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- Coach Freddie Kitchens has consistently said that he and the Cleveland Browns would support running back Kareem Hunt.

Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey showed that wasn't just talk on Sunday when they showed up for Hunt's baptism at True Vine Baptist Church in Cleveland.

"I just know that we wanted to know that he felt supported as a person," Kitchens said Monday morning before the Cleveland Browns Foundation's golf tournament at Westwood Country Club. "That's what I told him and John [Dorsey] has told him when we were talking to him when he first got here. And that's not lip service from me and that's not lip service from John Dorsey."

Unlike Sundays in the fall, this spring Sunday was not about football for Dorsey and Kitchens.

"We went there for Kareem Hunt as the person and not the football player," Kitchens said. "I went to other baptisms, and I am sure John [Dorsey] is the same way, other people's baptisms that they don't play football. The thing we did yesterday was not about football at all, it was about Kareem as the person."

Kitchens believes caring about the person first is paramount in any situation.

"That's where it is going to start with us here," Kitchens said. "I have said that from the get-go, that's the way I have always approached coaching even at Mississippi State or North Texas or wherever I have been. It's always been about the person. I feel like John [Dorsey] is the same way."

As for Hunt the football player, the Browns took a chance in February by signing the 2017 NFL rushing leader after he was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs when a video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman at his Cleveland residence in 2018 surfaced. He neither was arrested nor faced charges for the incident.

The NFL suspended Hunt for the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Hunt, 23, knows that he must do the right things off the field before he can step on an NFL field again. This offseason, Hunt has been attending counseling and reaching out to local high schools to talk to students about their choices. His baptism was just the latest in the line of events for Hunt since becoming a Brown.

"I'm actually getting baptized this Sunday, so I'm excited about that," Hunt said at Browns OTA last Wednesday. "I'm looking forward so I can feel reborn."

Kitchens would rather focus on the "windshield instead of the rearview mirror." He has gotten to know Hunt since the Browns signed him, and believes the running back understands you can't change the past but you must focus on the current day.

"It's a new day every time we wake up, and you either get better or you get worse during the course of that day," Kitchens said. "Kareem understands that."