Last month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that league will wait to interview Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill regarding potential Personal Conduct Policy violations until the pending criminal investigation ends.
“The priority is the young child,” Goodell said after the May ownership meeting. “We will obviously be cooperative with whatever the court wants. We are prepared to go ahead and have an interview whenever we have the permission to do so and then we’ll go ahead and make a determination based on what information we have at that time.”
Goodell’s explanation was in the right church but definitely planted in the wrong pew; there’s nothing for a court to allow or disallow until there’s a court proceeding, and there’s no one to give the NFL permission to talk to Hill if there’s no prosecution. The point, albeit inartfully made by a non-lawyer who prides himself on being a non-lawyer, is that the NFL won’t investigate a player for Personal Conduct Policy violations while a criminal investigation is pending.
On Friday, it became clear that there’s no pending criminal investigation. Which gives the NFL the green light to investigate and, if necessary, to discipline Hill.
Already, signs are emerging that the NFL — apparently concerned about any P.R. problems that could mar Big Shield, Season 100 — will not-so-subtly brush this one under the rug. Indeed, Shield Media already is floating the stunning notion that Hill will return to training camp unfettered by a paid or unpaid suspension.
While the NFL may not want to dirty its hands by delving into whether and to what extent the Mr. Hyde who choked and beat a pregnant Crystal Espinal in 2014 has once again overpowered Dr. Jekyll, the NFL has created a clear precedent that cries out for action, given aggressively zealous investigations and suspensions of players like Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
And there definitely are potential Personal Conduct Policy violations, even if Hill is never arrested or charged. In a subsequent item, we’ll outline all of the ways that the NFL could proceed against Hill.
For now, here’s the point: The NFL has no reason to delay an investigation of Tyreek Hill, and if justified the imposition of discipline. Based on the messages already being disseminated by the media operation the NFL owns and operates, the league at a minimum is floating a trial balloon regarding the possibility that no action of any kind will be taken.