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Among the more troubling (and there are plenty) of passages in a recorded conversation featuring Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill that was released in April was when his fiancee accused him of punching their 3-year-old son in the chest.
Child Protective Services “said time and time again that [son’s name] literally, [son’s name] kept saying, ‘Daddy punches me,’ which you do when he starts crying,” Crystal Espinal said. “What do you do? You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest. And then if he gets in trouble you get the belt out.”
Hill didn’t immediately deny such a statement, which would be the natural reaction of virtually any other father if they were wrongfully accused of such a barbaric act. Instead, he initially brushed it off because he claimed Espinal also beats the kid, sometimes with a belt.
Later in the recording, Hill repeatedly said he “didn’t do nothing.”
Well, Hill met with the media Sunday in Kansas City and acknowledged that, yes, he has punched his son in the chest, but it’s not the way everyone thinks.
“I really can’t get into that, but punching my son in the chest, that would probably refer to me teaching my son how to box, because we do have boxing gloves at our house, and our son … loves Iron Man, Aquaman, and he’s like, ‘Daddy come on, come on, come on’ all the time,” Hill told reporters.
“So that’s what it is, man,” Hill continued. “Sometimes things get thrown out of context when feelings get involved and emotions. But I’m not gonna get into all that right now.”
What? So Hill now admits to punching his 3-year-old but it’s OK because it’s the context of some kind of boxing training that includes the 3-year-old taking body blows from a grown man?
Does anyone believe that story?
The only thing more ridiculous than Hill thinking this was a suitable defense for the charge of punching his 3-year-old son in the chest is that the NFL apparently bought it.
Hill isn’t suspended. Hill isn’t in any real trouble from the league. He’s set to play and sign a new, rich contract with the Chiefs.
The NFL conducted an investigation of some sorts but concluded it couldn’t figure out who was telling the truth, pending additional information.
Look, the NFL’s personal conduct policy, like many of its disciplinary decisions, is an exercise in lunacy. There are no set standards. There is no consistency. It was always Pandora’s Box.
But Hill isn’t the first to claim he didn’t do whatever the league said he did. Just about every player who has ever gotten in trouble for anything denies the charge. Violence. Sexual assault. PEDs. Whatever. Some of them even had viable arguments.
The NFL never had a problem determining who was or wasn’t telling the truth. It never had a problem not just calling bull, even on difficult he-said-she-said cases. If anything, it went too far and was too arbitrary.
The league spent millions of dollars to deny the existence of science so it could conclude the Patriots deflated footballs that were never proven to be actually deflated (false stories in the media even served as a smear campaign). It then ignored under-oath statements by Tom Brady and others, ruling them lies and fighting all the way to a federal court of appeals to preserve a guilty verdict.
Yet with Hill, of all people, they believe this nonsense?
They bought this incriminating story from someone who has already pleaded guilty to domestic violence, had a court remove the son from his custody, had the same son suffer a broken arm — and on the very same tape threatens his fiancee?
“He is terrified of you,” Espinal said to Hill of their son. “And you say that he respects you, but it’s not respect.”
“He respects me,” Hill said, as if a 3-year-old is even capable of such a thing.
“He is terrified of you,” Espinal said.
“You need to be terrified of me too, bitch,” he said. “That’s why you can’t keep a [expletive] man.”
How in the world is Tyreek Hill the guy that the NFL, after all of these suspensions and controversies, decides to put its faith in? Can we pay Ted Wells $4 million to uncover that mystery?
If the league wants to get out of policing off-field conduct then go ahead. Leave it to law enforcement. It has been a bad idea from the start for Roger Goodell to play sheriff.
Yet Goodell embraced that role through thick and thin, believing the public at large has no tolerance for these kinds of stories. He’s correct about that.
That doesn’t mean fans of the specific team involved care. They just want their club to win; everyone in Kansas City knows a Super Bowl is far more likely with Hill than without. It’s why Hill thanked the fans for their love and support through all this so-called adversity.
Since local fans don’t care, the NFL knows team owners aren’t going to care, either. That’s why the league felt a centralized system was needed.
Almost on cue, Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt went spineless on Sunday.
“I thought there were some inappropriate language in that tape, and I’m sure Tyreek wishes he could have it back,” Hunt said.
“You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.”
Yeah, that's certainly one way to describe it.
If this is the NFL changing course and taking every outrageous denial for even the most heinous of crimes then it should have the courage to announce it.
And while doing so, it should apologize to all the guys the league didn’t believe before Tyreek Hill came along and somehow, someway dropped the general IQ level of the league office.
“Roger Goodell and his team, they did their thing,” Hill said. “They dug in and they got all the facts. I’m appreciative for those guys, as well.”
Well, that’s nice to hear.
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