Matt Nagy Is Helping Lay the Groundwork for Kareem Hunt's Return to the NFL

By Henry McKenna

Kareem Hunt’s return to the NFL may not be a drawn out process. The former Kansas City Chiefs running back is beginning to receive support from his former offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Nagy, who is now the Chicago Bears head coach, addressed Hunt’s status as a free agent during an end-of-season press conference in Chicago. During the press conference on Monday, Nagy fielded a question about what he’d say if Bears general manager Ryan Pace asked about signing Hunt.

"“I talked to Kareem, completely wanting to know how he’s doing. We had a good conversation [a week ago]. Here’s a kid that I spent a year coaching on offense. It’s a tough situation. I wanted to see — making sure that he’s OK but understanding, too, the situation that happened is unfortunate for everybody. He knows that. “The only thing I cared about when I talked to him was literally his personal life, how he’s doing. It was a good conversation. He sounded good. But that’s it. The other stuff, that’s not where it’s at. There’s more to it than the football, so we talked strictly on that.”"

Pace, meanwhile, said that the Bears “are not even there yet” when it comes to thinking about Hunt in the context of other signings of troubled players. Still, the message was clear: Chicago is open to signing Hunt. And perhaps they’re already doing their research to see if Hunt is doing the right things to get back into the league. And perhaps they are also testing the court of public opinion with Nagy expressing support for Hunt. What level of backlash would follow a signing?

Certainly, signing Hunt would be a heel turn for Nagy, who has emphasized “high character” coaches and players since joining Chicago. Judging from the TMZ video of Hunt, which included footage of him kicking a woman in a hotel in February, he has proven not to have sterling character. The Chiefs cut hunt for lying to them about the incident in the hotel in February. Hunt is on the Commissioner’s Exempt list for the incident, and will be unable to sign with a team until the league office hands down a suspension and removes him from the list. In determining the severity of that suspension, the league will review three different incidents involving Hunt, according to ESPN.

Nagy, meanwhile, essentially stumped for the young running back.

"“I had a really good experience with him. … There were no issues at all. He was a really, really good kid. He came to work every day. He wasn’t late to meetings, any of that. … It’s a learning lesson. That’s the biggest thing, making sure he understood that when I talked to him. … “I’ve been raised that way — to give guys second chances, not third chances.”"

Nagy and Pace have not just opened the door to Hunt going to Chicago but the league in general. Nagy’s recommendation could draw interest from other teams around the league, who think they can find value in Hunt, a moral reclamation project. And perhaps Nagy has successfully laid the groundwork for his former pupil to reenter the NFL.

The question, of course, is whether Hunt deserves that public support from Nagy.