NFL's outrageous decision to not suspend Tyreek Hill once again highlights league's ridiculous discipline policy

Alex Reimer
July 19, 2019 - 11:36 am

The NFL announced Friday it will not suspend Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill for his involvement in a child abuse case, once again opening up the league’s outrageous disciplinary policy to widespread scrutiny. 

Earlier this year, Hill’s fiancee, Crystal Espinal, accused him of breaking their three-year-old son’s arm in a dispute. Kansas City-area law enforcement officials visited the couple’s residence twice over a nine-day span in March for a child abuse-neglect complaint and alleged child battery. Though the case was ultimately closed last month without charges being filed, the young boy was removed from the home, according to reports. The Kansas Department for Children and Families is still investigating, despite the closure of the criminal inquiry.

The disturbing story took an even more harrowing turn in April, when a recorded conversation between Hill and Espinal was leaked to the press. The discussion, which Espinal surreptitiously recorded at Dubai International Airport, features Hill threatening his fiancee’s safety. 

“(Our son) is terrified of you,” Espinal said.

“You need to be terrified of me, too, bitch,” Hill responded. “That’s why you can't keep a f— man.”

In 2014, Hill was arrested for beating and strangling Espinal, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time. He pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery. 

In a statement, the NFL says it conducted a “thorough investigation” and could not conclude Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy. The league says the court documents from the child abuse case are under seal, and thus could not be accessed.

Unsurprisingly, numerous NFL Insiders are rushing to push out the league’s side of the story. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reports investigator Lisa Friel, who was hired in the aftermath of the Ray Rice fiasco, interviewed Hill for 8.5 hours in June. He also says the league made numerous attempts to interview Espinal, but those efforts failed.

On “Dale & Keefe” Friday, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said the full 11-minute tape of the conversation between Hill and his ex-fiancee exonerates the wideout.  

Given Hill’s grotesque history of domestic violence, it is difficult to brush away these charges –– especially since he verbally threatened his wife on tape. With one investigation still underway and the court documents unavailable, it would’ve been far more prudent for the league to at least place Hill on the commissioner’s exempt list until all of the facts are revealed. The possibility exists more repulsive information about this situation will come out while Hill is catching balls for the Chiefs this season.

More importantly, the NFL’s Personal Conduct policy says nothing about legal liability. Instead, it says “all league personnel must refrain from 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in' the NFL.”

It’s hard to fathom how being credibly accused of child abuse and verbally threatening your fiancee, whom you’ve already pleaded guilty to beating, reflects less poorly on the league than playing with deflated footballs. But that is how the NFL operates. 

Related: Tyreek Hill tells fiancee to be 'terrified' of him when she confronts him about toddler's broken arm