Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill will not be disciplined or fined for the child-abuse investigation or his comments toward his then-fiancée on a secret recording that were made public.
Based on that decision, sources tell Yahoo Sports that the Chiefs — who suspended him from team activities the past three months — will allow him to join his teammates for the start of training camp on July 26 in St. Joseph, Missouri.
In a statement released Friday morning, the NFL said, “the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy. Accordingly, he may attend Kansas City’s training camp and participate in all club activities.”
Here is the NFL’s full statement: pic.twitter.com/rEvNP2SxMO
— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 19, 2019
The NFL’s judgment supports the notion that the evidence Hill and his attorneys provided league investigators during an eight-hour meeting on June 26 was significant, as sources told Yahoo Sports that Hill included text messages supporting the assertions he made in his own defense in a four-page letter he sent the NFL in early May regarding the child abuse case. Authorities were looking into the welfare of Hill’s 3-year-old son who suffered a broken arm.
The Chiefs have also viewed that evidence, sources told Yahoo Sports, and have been aware of much of it for months, which contributed to the team’s initial decision to not part ways with him when the child-abuse investigation began in early March.
Tyreek Hill thankful in his statement
Hill released a statement of his own on Twitter, thanking his fans and the Chiefs organization while promising he “will continue to strive to be the best father, the best friend, the best role model, and the best mentor that I can be.”
Why things looked bleak for Hill
When the Johnson County district attorney held a news conference in late April announcing his intention to not press charges against either Hill or his then-fiancée Crystal Espinal (despite the fact he said he believed a crime had been committed against the child), Hill and the Chiefs believed it was a significant step toward the matter being resolved. But the next day, a local news station broadcast parts of a secretly recorded 11-minute conversation between Hill and Espinal in an airport on their way back from Dubai. The station aired a portion that included Hill and Espinal arguing about who broke their child’s arm, as Espinal accused Hill of injuring the child and also punching the boy in the chest (which Hill denied).
"He's terrified of you," Espinal said on the tape, referring to their son.
"You need to be terrified of me too — dumb bitch," Hill said.
Given Hill’s previous history — he pleaded guilty to punching and kicking Espinal during a 2014 incident, a decision that allowed him to avoid jail time and keep his NFL prospects alive — that comment became a flash point, one that many believed would lead to significant punishment for Hill, both from the NFL and possibly the authorities since the district attorney could reopen the case whenever he likes.
And for a while, it seemed that’s what the authorities would do, as the same local news station that reported the audio also reported that the case has been reopened as national outrage regarding Hill continued to simmer. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who a source told Yahoo Sports had just seen the report minutes before a previously scheduled news conference announcing the signing of Frank Clark, gave it more life when he repeated that statement during the news conference.
Release of full audio added context to Hill, fiancee talk
Around that same time, the Chiefs and Hill agreed that he should stay away from the team until the situation resolved itself – even though he still received pay, sources said – as the club did further investigation and research into the audio, which it had not heard to that point. A source close to the investigation tells Yahoo Sports that as the Chiefs did that research, they eventually came to believe in the strength of the evidence Hill would eventually present to the NFL two weeks ago.
And weeks after the audio was released, sources told Yahoo Sports that many close to the investigation believed the case had not, in fact, actually been reopened, and the Johnson County district attorney even said in early June that the case was not active at the moment.
Although Mike Deines, the communications director for the Kansas Department of Children and Families, told Yahoo Sports that a child services investigation remains ongoing, the district attorney’s decision not to charge Hill was the first step toward clearing a path that allowed the NFL’s decision on Friday to come to fruition, with the second step being the sitdown in late June in which Hill presented his evidence.
In addition, the release of the full audio — which finally aired in full on a Kansas City radio station last week — also seemed to add some degree of context to the situation, as people heard previously omitted portions that included the exasperated couple arguing about the validity of a 2014 incident (in which Hill pleaded guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation) and Hill expressing lament about the couple’s relationship.
“... You ruined my life and you lied on me in 2014, bro,” Hill said of the incident, which took place in his Stillwater, Oklahoma, residence and resulted in him being kicked off Oklahoma State’s football team.
Hill avoided jail time for the 2014 incident by pleading guilty in exchange for a deferred three-year sentence. He completed his probation requirements and the case records were expunged.
He eventually got drafted by the Chiefs in the fifth round in 2016, amid much furor, and blossomed into an All-Pro return man and receiver.
If a deal doesn’t get done as Hill enters the 2019 season — a contract year, mind you, as he enters the final year of his original four-year rookie deal — the 25-year-old will be able to help himself by having a strong season. And in an outcome that seemed unlikely to many just 2 1/2 months ago, Hill will have all 16 games available to him in 2019 to do so.
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