Most who heard the disturbing audio that emerged only an hour before the draft began on Thursday night have concluded that whatever defect of character caused Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill to assault a then-pregnant Crystal Espinal in December 2014 still lingers. And many began to call on the Chiefs to take decisive action as to Hill.
Three days later, the Chiefs haven’t cut him. But they’ve made it clear that he won’t be with the team, at least for “the foreseeable future.” It’s expected that the team and the league will take some sort of additional action this week. Although the NFL typically does not invoke the Commissioner Exempt list in the offseason, the best outcome for now could be to put Hill on paid leave (there’s no pay to be earn) until the renewed criminal investigation ends, and until the NFL makes a decision on any type of league-imposed punishment.
While the Chiefs also could cut Hill, keeping him or cutting him means nothing from a professional standpoint, if he’s on the Commissioner Exempt list. From a personal standpoint, it could make plenty of sense for the Chiefs to officially keep Hill on the team.
Go back and listen to the audio. Hill’s relationship with Espinal can easily be described as dysfunctional, and given what happened more than four years ago if fairly can be regarded as combustible. So if the Chiefs, a franchise that endured the sudden and shocking Jovan Belcher tragedy in 2012, were to sever ties with Hill in the immediate aftermath of a secretly-recorded audio that was made by Espinal being leaked to the media, the Hill-Espinal relationship could become even more combustible.
Given that Hill choked and beat Espinal while she was pregnant, and in light of his chilling “you need to be terrified of me, too” threat caught on audio, it’s not an unreasonable concern.
And that’s an important angle to consider, at a time when many are demanding that the Chiefs do the right thing and move on from Hill. In time, perhaps they will. To the extent that the Chiefs hope to avoid throwing rocket fuel onto a fire that already seems to be raging, there’s no harm in waiting. Especially since Hill currently isn’t, and won’t be, with the Chiefs.