As Browns running back Kareem Hunt faces the team that drafted him, there are many layers to his return to Kansas City.
How he nearly threw away his NFL career with off-the-field transgressions, including shoving and kicking a woman in February 2018 and lying to the Chiefs about it. His longing for a Super Bowl and the pain it brought him to watch them win it last season without him. His second chance with the Browns and his desire to help his hometown team raise the Lombardi Trophy. The belief he had for months that the two teams would meet in the playoffs. The challenge of running angry against people who remain special in his life.
And then there’s the most basic motivation in football — bragging rights.
That was sure to come up with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, whom Hunt considers family, as they face off Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff in Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s a big game. Travis and Pat and all those guys, we’re buddies. This is my first time playing against some of my best friends in the NFL,” Hunt said Thursday. “It’s definitely going to be for bragging rights and stuff like that for the long run.”
But Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins added some unexpected fuel.
Watkins was tweeting while watching the Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in a wild-card game Sunday night. But when a Kansas City fan replied that the Chiefs might get some competition from the Browns, Watkins tweeted, “I wouldn’t go that far lol..!"
Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) outruns Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Cameron Sutton (20) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]
“We’ll just see on Sunday,” Hunt said in a Zoom call, chuckling. “We’ll let the play do the talking. There ain’t much to be said. If he believes that, we’ll see what he thinks after the game.”
Hunt’s backfield mate Nick Chubb revealed Wednesday how Hunt practically willed this matchup into existence.