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Cleveland Browns' signing of Kareem Hunt spurs criticism from women's advocates

“Women don't matter to the NFL, which is rather surprising because they're a big part of the viewer audience,” said the president of the National Organization For Women.
Image: Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
Running back Kareem Hunt #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs to the sidelines just before kickoff in the game against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 24, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.Jason Hanna / Getty Images

Kareem Hunt, a former star football player for the Kansas City Chiefs who was fired after a video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman, is returning to the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns announced Monday that the running back will be joining their team for a one-year contract.

Hunt was fired by the Chiefs in late November after TMZ Sports released a video of him getting into an argument with a woman that turned violent at a hotel in Cleveland in February 2018.

Hours after the video surfaced, the Chiefs cut the 2017 Rookie of the Year who at one point in 2018 had the fifth most rushing yards in the NFL.

Hunt apologized for his actions shown in the video shortly after it was released. In a statement Monday, he reiterated his remorse, saying, “I am committed to following the necessary steps to learn and to be a better and healthier person from this situation.”

But the Browns’ decision to sign him was denounced Monday by some advocates against gender-based violence.

“The message this sends is that money matters more than women," said Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization For Women told NBC News.

“Women don't matter to the NFL, which is rather surprising because they're a big part of the viewer audience.”

Erin White, spokesperson for Safe Horizons, a national victims-service agency, told NBC News, that the decision to bring Hunt back to the league is “troubling.”

“Consistently, the message survivors hear is that their experiences aren’t valued. When we treat abuse or violence as a private problem or sweep it under the rug, that behavior is reinforced,” White said.

Browns general manager John Dorsey justified Hunt’s return, saying in a statement, “Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse.”

“Given what we know about Kareem, we believe he deserves a second chance,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey has history with Hunt — he was the general manager of the Chiefs when Hunt was originally drafted to the team in 2017.

Even though the Browns have brought Hunt on, the video remains under investigation by the NFL.

On social media, many called out the NFL for what they said was a double standard in the treatment of Hunt and Colin Kaepernick.

Mike Freeman, an NFL columnist at Bleacher Report, tweeted, “Kareem Hunt is ON VIDEO kicking a woman while she’s on the ground and still got signed. Thank God he didn’t take a knee protesting social justice.”

Darin Gantt, a reporter at NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, tweeted “If you’re a woman, or a minority, the NFL has told you in no uncertain terms today how seriously they take you. Time to believe them.”