Chiefs move on after Kareem Hunt’s release
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and Kareem Hunt entered the NFL as part of Kansas City’s 2017 draft class and quickly formed a tight friendship as they tried to build the Chiefs into a Super Bowl contender.
Mahomes now must do it without Hunt, released over the weekend after a video surfaced that showed him knocking over and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel hallway in February.
“We had a close relationship,” Mahomes said Sunday after he threw four TD passes in Kansas City’s 40-33 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
“I saw the stuff that happened. We don’t do those things. At the same time I focused on our organization, the Chiefs. I know we have to keep moving forward and going out there to win football games if we want to have success this season.”
The win over the Raiders capped a roller coaster of emotions for Chiefs players, who watched Hunt get sent home from the facility on Friday after TMZ posted the video. Hunt is shown being restrained several times by friends before pushing a woman to the ground, when he proceeds to kick her. Police were called to the scene during the Feb. 10 incident, no charges were filed and no punishment was handed out by the NFL.
That changed soon after the video was posted, with the league placing Hunt on the Commissioner Exemption List and then the Chiefs releasing Hunt shortly after that.
Coach Andy Reid declined to elaborate on the move, saying only it was difficult and praising his players for how they dealt with any distraction.
“We made the decision that we made,” Reid said. “We put out a statement to explain the situation. As we’ve done in the past, when things come up that’s where we go. We handle it within and we handle it with the person that it affects. We’ve done all of those things.”
Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns in helping Kansas City make the playoffs. He had run for 824 yards this season, with seven touchdowns rushing and seven more receiving, in helping the Chiefs (10-2) race out to a lead in the AFC West.
Now Kansas City must go through the stretch run of the season and the playoffs without one of its most important offensive pieces and popular locker room personality.
“That’s my brother,” said Spencer Ware, who replaced Hunt as the starting running back. “It’s a tough situation. But like I said, the men in this circle, the men in our locker room, the organization, Chiefs kingdom — we got one goal to win the Super Bowl. We got to stay distraction-free. I don’t have anything else to say about that.”
They managed to survive just fine against the struggling Raiders (2-10) with Ware rushing 14 times for 47 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-goal direct snap. Damien Williams added 38 yards on five carries, Tyreek Hill gained 37 on an end-around and a lateral, and Mahomes ran for 52 on his own.
The Chiefs finished with 174 yards rushing in all, their second-highest total of the season.
“It was great to get Spencer back in there working on more of a full-time basis, as opposed to being a relief pitcher or third-down player,” Reid said. “Williams then stepped in and had a couple of nice runs.”