Talent continues to trump character concerns in the NFL, even if the bar is now higher for getting a player a second chance — and lower for keeping him out.
The Chiefs deemed West Alabama return specialist Tyreek Hill to be good enough to get a shot at the NFL, and his misconduct not bad enough to prevent it. The Chiefs, who were called out locally by Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star for picking a player who pleaded guilty in 2015 to punching an choking his pregnant girlfriend while at Oklahoma State, have defended the decision.
G.M. John Dorsey and Chiefs coach Andy Reid held a Saturday night press conference specifically to address concerns arising from the use of a fifth-round pick on Hill.
“I know that I would never put this community in any type of situation where it would not be good and we’ve done that,” Dorsey said, via Mellinger. “I would like to ask for you guys to just have a little bit of trust in us in this thing.”
“There has to be a certain trust here, but there’s just things that we can’t go into and go through,” Reid said, according to Terez Paylor and Tod Palmer of the Star. “We want people to understand, like [Dorsey] said, we’re not going to do anything to put this community or this organization in a bind. We uncovered every possible stone that we possibly could, and we feel very comfortable with that part of it.”
Reid explained that Hill has worked to rectify his past issues, which occurred when he allegedly punched his girlfriend in the face and choked her twice, when she was two months pregnant.
“Before you’re given a second chance, you better be doing the right things,” Reid said. “So he’s been in counseling, he’ll continue to be in counseling, we’ve got a great support system here for that with quality people. We feel good that he’s trying to right a wrong, a big wrong. But he’s trying to do better, and be a better person for it. And that part, we feel very confident in.”
Hill, who also spoke to reporters on Saturday night, expressed gratitude for the team’s decision to embrace uncanny talents as a return specialist and to overlook his past.
“I got questions everywhere I went, so it wasn’t anything new to me,” Hill said. “I would have just told them straight up, ‘I’m trying to move on from that. I’m trying to be a better young man. I’m trying to show who I truly am.’ Stuff like that. . . . The only thing I did say was, ‘I’m sorry. I messed up. I embarrassed the program at [Oklahoma State]. I embarrassed the coaches. I embarrassed a lot of people back at home.’ That’s it. That’s how I explained it. I really don’t want to go into detail.”
It’s understandable why he wouldn’t want to go into detail. Too much detail would allow a mental picture of what happened to be created.
But no mental picture would as potent as video. If, as in Ray Rice’s case, fans and media could see what Hill did to his pregnant girlfriend, Hill could be Gale Sayers, Devin Hester, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and Dante Hall rolled into one and it wouldn’t have mattered.