Photo Credit: Chigaco Tribune
Written by Anthony Mahon
April 25th was a day where media coverage was dedicated mostly to the impending NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. The football world was excited to see what teams the top prospects in the nation would go to. However, the story quickly became about a poor draft decision the Kansas City Chiefs made three years ago.
Just before this year’s draft went live, news broke of an audio recording with the Chiefs’ wide receiver, Tyreek Hill and fiancee Crystal Espinal. In the recording, the two discuss an investigation regarding their three-year-old son and his broken arm. The content of the audio is difficult to stomach.
In the midst of the argument, Espinal tells Hill that their son is “terrified of [him].” Hill scarily responds with, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.” Espinal continues detailing the extent of Hill’s abuse. “You make him open his arms and you punch him in the chest and then if he gets in trouble, you get the belt out.”
Hill denies being the cause of his son’s broken arm despite Espinal pointing out that their son has repeatedly indicated otherwise. Espinal also implies that she lied about Hill’s abusive behavior to detectives and officers during a previous investigation.
Thankfully, the child is no longer under the care of either Hill or Espinal. While the investigation is still ongoing, there is a clear decision for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL to make. Tyreek Hill needs to be released and banned from the NFL.
Hill has shown a repeated pattern of abuse over the course of his athletic career. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to punching and choking Espinal who was pregnant at the time. He received three years probation and was dismissed from Oklahoma State’s athletic program. With the incident in mind, the Kansas City Chiefs still used their 2016 fifth-round pick on Hill for which they were rightfully criticized. This recording was released just days after the Chiefs traded for defensive end Frank Clark who has a disorderly conduct charge on his record, stemming from a domestic violence incident in November 2014. Considering the Chiefs also gave him a five-year contract extension, a dangerous pattern within the organization becomes clear.
The lack of morality as it pertains to domestic abuse extends far beyond the Chiefs. The NFL’s history of mishandling domestic violence cases has been well-documented going all the way back to — and before — Ray Rice. Changes have been made over the years but Tyreek Hill’s situation has proved that there is still work to be done. The Chiefs knew of Hill’s past as well as the public scrutiny that would come with drafting him and did it anyway. This has been the same course of action that many NFL teams have taken with its players and it has fostered a culture where talent trumps character.
Following the release of the recording, the Chiefs announced on Twitter that Tyreek Hill was indefinitely suspended from all team activities.
On the legal front, the contents of the recording prompted the re-opening of a child abuse investigation against Hill and Espinal. Hopefully, justice is served on both the football and legal side of the investigation.