Adam TeicherESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered Chiefs for 20 seasons for Kansas City Star
- Joined ESPN in 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. — Patrick Mahomes became friends with Kareem Hunt last year, when they were part of the same Kansas City Chiefs draft class. They talked often about leading the Chiefs together to a run of success like the franchise has never seen.
But after the Chiefs’ first game without Hunt, Mahomes voiced more clearly than any of his teammates or coach Andy Reid the reason Hunt needed to go.
“I saw the stuff that happened,” Mahomes said after Sunday’s 40-33 win over the Raiders. “We don’t do those things.”
The “stuff” Mahomes referred to surfaced in a video last week of an incident involving Hunt and a woman outside of his Cleveland residence in February. The video showed Hunt pushing the woman and kicking her when she was on the ground.
The Chiefs moved swiftly once the video was made public. On Friday, they released Hunt, the NFL’s leading rusher last season as a rookie.
The Chiefs had had about 48 hours to process the news when Sunday’s game ended.
“Kareem being a friend of mine, I think the impact is just that — Kareem as a person,” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “I didn’t think about football or how it would have an impact on this locker room or on our season at all. Because obviously, this is secondary. And life, life is first. You know, he has some things that he needs to learn. Some time that he needs to take. Reflection. I think he’s going to do that. Hopefully he has those people around him in that circle who are going to help him through that.
“It was a little bit of shock, with the things going on. It came at us pretty fast here. But life moves fast, and it doesn’t wait for anybody. I’ve reached out to him, hoping that he gets the help that he needs and that he can grow as a man, and really, the focus is on Kareem as a person, not the football player right now.”
Reid referred to a statement the Chiefs issued upon releasing Hunt and said little other than to indicate that the decision to cut Hunt was a difficult one.
“Those kinds of things are never easy,” Reid said.
“I don’t want to get anything to distract from how tough a place this is to play [and] my locker room leadership overcoming the situation we had there, which can be a distraction, and [they] stepped up today in a place that we haven’t always come out with this kind of result.”
Spencer Ware replaced Hunt as the Chiefs’ lead back. Ware, who led the Chiefs in rushing in 2016, only to lose the starting job to Hunt last season because of a season-ending knee injury in preseason, rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders.
He said he hadn’t contacted Hunt since he was released.
“We had work today,” Ware said. “We had business to take care of. So we try to stay distraction-free over here. There’s no try. You’ve just got to do it. We played hard. We had our mistakes. … We won’t let anything that happens on the outside dictate or control what we have inside.
“That’s my brother. It’s a tough situation. But the men in this circle, the men in the locker room … we’ve got one goal, and that’s to win a Super Bowl.”