Kamara focuses on football as “self-inflicted ordeal” ends

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Alvin Kamara
July 27, 2023; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints training camp in Metairie, La. (Photo: Stephen Lew).

METAIRIE – Alvin Kamara’s long-awaited suspension was finally handed down Friday.

The NFL suspended the New Orleans Saints five-time Pro Bowl running back for the first three games of the upcoming season.

The announcement came 18 months after Kamara was arrested for his involvement in a fight in a Las Vegas hotel and about two hours after Kamara held an unscheduled post-training camp practice news conference, speaking about his meeting two days earlier with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City.

The duration of the suspension was consistent with similar cases to the one in which Kamara was involved. He was arrested on felony charges after a fight in a hotel that left his accuser (Darnell Greene) hospitalized with an orbital fracture of his right eye.

“It’s a tough ordeal to be in,” Kamara said. “I never want to be involved in something where someone gets hurt or severely injured. I don’t want to be in a position where I put my hands on somebody – especially in the position I’m in being a leader and kind of being a role model for children.

“That’s the last thing you want to do because it comes with trouble and it could have been worse. I’m blessed that it wasn’t worse. Obviously I still hate that it happened. I hate the whole situation.”

The legal case finally was resolved July 11 when Kamara pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge rather than the two felonies he was originally charged with, accepted community service and agreed to pay $100,000 in medical expenses. Greene’s civil suit against Kamara also was settled on confidential terms.

That settlement paved the way for the NFL to wrap up its investigation of Kamara, who requested the meeting with the commissioner.

Prior to his comments Friday, Kamara’s only public statement about the case came in the form of a written apology that was a requirement of the settlement.

He seemed a bit nervous, but smiled periodically. The smiles seemed genuine.

He was serious – even retrospective at times. It seemed sincere.

He even cracked a couple of jokes – not about the case, but when the conversation turned to lighter topics.

It’s unknown whether Kamara’s meeting with Goodell mitigated his punishment, but Kamara said, “I think we got accomplished what we needed to get accomplished.”

The meeting seemed to have a cathartic effect on Kamara even before the resolution was announced. The punishment finally gave the Saints and Kamara clarity about the status of one of the team’s most valuable players.

“It’s hanging over you like a dark cloud,” Kamara said of the uncertainty.

He emphasized that the dark cloud was a “self-inflicted” aspect of the “ordeal.”

“I know what I did,” he said. “I know what I was involved in. I definitely take responsibility and that’s part of being a man and growing.

“I’m definitely not looking for any pity and not looking for somebody to give me a pat on the back and say it’s OK.”

Kamara said he’d “be lying if I said it hasn’t affected me.”

“It’s definitely affected me every day,” he continued. “I’ve lost a lot. I’ve lost (money), I’ve lost some friends, I’ve lost support from some people. But I’ve had a ton of support from this organization. I’ve had support from family and friends, people that know me, that know what I stand for.

“I know my character, I know who I am. Luckily I’m somewhere where these people know who I am, the city knows who I am. That’s kept me going.”

Kamara said he exercised “poor judgment,” in the early-morning incident that also involved current Indianapolis cornerback Chris Lammons, who also received a three-game suspension Friday, and two other men.

“I was out at five in the morning,” Kamara said. “What did (former NFL coach) Tony Dungy used to say? Nothing good happens after midnight.

“It was definitely a bad decision, but I’m a man. Everything that I’ve ever done in my life I’ve stood on, I could take accountability for and I could say when I’m wrong. I was completely wrong and embarrassed the Saints, my family, my mother, embarrassed myself, embarrassed the city and obviously embarrassed the NFL.”

Kamara has the right to appeal the punishment, but that seems unlikely since he already has had an opportunity to plead his case to Goodell.

He said he “had a little boost at practice” Friday.

“I felt better, like a weight was off of me,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to just focusing on football.”

After addressing the case in an opening statement, Kamara said, “now let’s talk about football,” though he periodically returned to the topic of the day as questions about it kept coming.

Kamara said he had been preparing for the season “as if I’m not going to get suspended” even though he knew one was likely.

Before the suspension became a reality he said he didn’t “expect the team to miss a beat” if it did happen.

“They’ve got to keep going whether I’m here or not,” he continued. “I don’t think anyone is sitting here saying if Alvin’s not here we can’t do this or we can’t do that. They’re going to keep moving, find a way. I expect them to go and win for however long I’m suspended. I don’t expect any drop-off.”

Kamara said he expects the same of himself – as well as exercising better judgment going forward.

As football questions became more prevalent toward the end Kamara was asked about a reduction in his role in the Saints passing offense the last two seasons. He said he had spoken with offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael about it.

“We had a long talk and a heated argument,” Kamara joked.

Kamara fielded a few more questions even after a Saints official tried to end the more than 20-minute session.

“I’m cool,” Kamara said with a smile. “I’m in my groove.”

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Les East

CCS/SDS/Field Level Media

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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…

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