NFL stars getting into legal trouble is nothing new, but the stance the league takes against the player has no consistency as seen by the latest addition to this group: Tyreek Hill.
The Kansas City Chiefs star receiver, Hill is one of the most explosive and fun to watch players in the NFL. Known for being arguably the league’s fastest player, Hill draws attention from teams and fans alike. But Hill has not always been seen in such high graces.
In 2014, when attending Oklahoma State University, Hill was arrested for the assault of his fiance, Crystal Espinal. Footage surfaced showing Hill repeatedly punching, choking, and throwing her. Hill pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Hill eventually found his way to the University of West Alabama, where he had a solid career. His history resurfaced when he entered the NFL Draft after, despite his ability, he was not invited to the NFL Combine due to his criminal record. When he was drafted, as expected, the Kansas City Chiefs received similar backlash.
And now, Hill is back in the news, currently suspended indefinitely from Chiefs team activities due to reports that he abused his three-year-old son. An audio clip was aired on a Kansas City television station that suggests Hill may have broken his son’s arm. The clip is a conversation between Hill and Espinal, now his wife. The conversation has both parties accusing the other of beating their child. Espinal tells Hill that their son “is terrified of you” only to be met with the response of “You need to be terrified of me, too.” This clip surfaced only days after prosecutors could not determine who had harmed the child and decided to drop the charges.
Despite his history and severity of his crimes, Hill is currently just being kept out of team activities, facing no punishment from the league itself. This is odd due to the league’s normal hard stance against players’ criminal actions. New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has battled with the NFL after violating the illegal substance policy by smoking marijuana. Another player, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant, is currently suspended indefinitely by the NFL for the same issue.
In a country moving closer and closer to the legalization of marijuana, why are players are being severely punished for substance violation but not for assault or abuse? One reason could be the business culture. Hill is a major money-maker for the industry of the NFL and it would not benefit them to suspend or ban him. His former teammate, Kareem Hunt, led the league in rushing yards his rookie year before a video surfaced of him kicking a woman in a hotel. Hunt was put on the Commissioner’s Exempt List and was ultimately suspended for eight games.
The weight of Hunt’s and Bryant’s crimes is not reflected by the punishment assigned by the NFL. The long-term situation with Hill is yet to be determined, but if history repeats itself, Hill will remain a star in the NFL and all of these legal troubles may soon be forgotten.