'I'm not that type of person': Kareem Hunt apologizes for incident, says he lied to Chiefs
An apologetic Kareem Hunt, in his first interview since his release by the Kansas City Chiefs after publication of an explosive video, said, "I was in the wrong" when he shoved and kicked a woman and that he regrets not making "the right decision to find a way to de-escalate the whole situation."
Hunt spoke in a live interview that ESPN's Lisa Salters said he requested and told her, "I just want to let the world know how sorry I am. It's been a tough time for me and I'm extremely embarrassed because of that video."
The video, published Friday by TMZ, shows disturbing images that Hunt said are at odds with his personality.
"I'm definitely not that type of person. My mother raised me right. I was raised by my mom and my grandma and it was just us," he said. "They've always taught me well and I know right from wrong. I'm a person who always wants to make everyone happy."
Hunt was cut Friday by the Chiefs after security video showed him shoving and kicking a woman in an incident in a hallway outside the Cleveland hotel apartment in which he lives. Abigail Ottinger, 19, and a friend were with Hunt and a group on a party bus earlier in the night and went back to Hunt's apartment, according to reports. The two were asked to leave, and the fight broke out in the hallway.
"Honestly, it was just a long night and, to be exact, it don't really matter what happened," he told Salters. "I was in the wrong. I could have took responsibility and made the right decision to find a way to de-escalate the whole situation."
He declined to offer specifics about what led to the disagreement, which occurred last February, and said he intended to seek treatment.
"It was definitely some things that were said and did that I did not like," he said. "That's not an excuse. That person in that video did not deserve that. I didn't mean to hurt anybody or anything like that. It's tough because I feel like I let a lot of people down. I just want to apologize to everybody, the Chiefs organization, my family and close friends."
Hunt, who asked for forgiveness, told Salters that he had moved into the apartment only days earlier and had invited friends over.
"Just a disagreement," he said. "Honestly, I wanted her just to leave, but it's no excuse for me to act that way or to even put myself in that position."
Most disturbing is the image of him kicking a woman and he offered no explanation for that.
"You can't really explain it," he said. "The video shows that I was in the wrong. I'm not that type of person. I'm really disappointed and embarrassed in myself and for my family. I really am taking action to learn from this and become a better man."
In releasing him, the Chiefs contended that Hunt had lied to him when they asked about the incident, not telling them about the video. "The Chiefs are right," Hunt told Salters. "I didn't tell them everything. I don't blame them for anything. My actions caused this. I wish I could apologize to them and let them know there's no hard feelings between me and the Chiefs. I love the program and the people there. I just want to take this time to better myself."
For Hunt, as for the Chiefs and others, seeing the video made all the difference and it's something he didn't see until Friday. "I realized what I did once I saw the video. It was really tough to watch. ... I wish I would have handled it differently."
Hunt reiterated, "That's not me. I wasn't raised like that." He added that the NFL had not interviewed him about the incident and said he has not reached out to the woman, saying he doesn't know how to do so because he doesn't know her. "If I could (contact her), I want to tell her right now that I am sorry for my actions that night."
For Hunt, the fallout was instantaneous following the video's release Friday. He was quickly was placed on the commissioner's exempt list, a paid-leave procedure that came to prominence in 2014 when the league used it to keep running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Greg Hardy off the field indefinitely while they faced legal charges in high-profile cases. According to the NFL Network, Hunt is facing more than a six-game suspension; if - and it's a big "if" - another team were to sign him, he would be disciplined until well into the 2019 season. In addition, Under Armour confirmed for the Baltimore Business Journal that it had severed its relationship with the 23-year-old running back, who led the league in rushing as a rookie.
For the Chiefs and the league, the fallout raises questions about the commitment to addressing domestic violence incidents, a problem it attempted to solve with an investigation after the Ray Rice public-relations crisis four years ago. ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that, during its investigation into the Hunt matter, the league did not request an interview with Hunt. It reached out to the alleged victim and a friend of hers "on multiple occasions," but they did not respond, officials said.
The league, according to the report, spoke to "as many witnesses who were there as possible" and they said Hunt was not involved. It obtained the police report and reviewed an interview of Hunt by the Chiefs, but took no action. As with the Rice case, TMZ obtained the video, confronting the NFL with another PR problem.
Four years ago, the NFL faced criticism for its handling of an incident in which Rice, the former Ravens running back. He initially was suspended two games and then video of him striking his then-fiancee was published by TMZ, setting off a season-long crisis. An independent investigation by Robert Mueller III revealed inadequacies in the league's investigation.
"It should have put the League on notice that a serious assault had occurred and that it should conduct a more substantial independent investigation to obtain available evidence of precisely what occurred inside the elevator," Mueller wrote.
The report concluded that there was no evidence that the NFL had seen the Rice video, which reportedly had been delivered to NFL offices. Nor did it contact the Ravens for more information.
"Had the League done so," Mueller wrote in the 2015 report, "it may have uncovered additional information about the incident, possibly including the in-elevator video prior to its public release."
The report concluded "there was substantial information about the incident - even without the in-elevator video - indicating the need for a more thorough investigation. The NFL should have done more with the information it had, and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 (2014) incident."
This article was written by Cindy Boren, a reporter for The Washington Post.