Two days ago at this time, Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was meeting for the first time with the NFL regarding multiple potential violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. Now, multiple reports and/or predictions are indicating that Hill will be suspended four games, at most.
That’s a risky proposition. Unless a reporter’s source is Commissioner Roger Goodell, any comments from any reporter regarding a potential suspension of Tyreek Hill amount to guesswork and speculation.
Ultimately, the Commissioner is going to do what he wants to do, and only he knows what he wants to do. Assuming he currently knows what he wants to do. It’s possible he hasn’t reached a decision yet.
When he does (if he already hasn’t), Goodell ideally will consider the evidence and the language of the Personal Conduct Policy, along with the precedent created by past investigations and suspensions. History tells us that he’s more likely to consider potential P.R. reactions to the decision, along with possible political complications that could arise, if the punishment exceeds that which Chiefs owner Clark Hunt believes would be fair and appropriate (a second Papa John offensive nevertheless remains unlikely).
The more accurate prediction (although mine should be ignored, too) is that the suspension will cover a minimum, not a maximum, of four games. Last year, Goodell suspended Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith four gams for making threats and engaging in emotional abuse of the mother of his child, without any type of violence. It’s publicly known that Hill made threats against Crystal Espinal (“you need to be terrified of me too, bitch”); the NFL’s investigation possibly has uncovered (or will uncover) other abusive behavior that did not involve violence.
The NFL’s investigation also explored whether Hill disciplined his son in a way that crossed the line into abuse, along with a broader look at the circumstances that resulted in the state removing the child from the custody of Hill and Espinal. Those factors could give rise to a separate violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.
Without having access to the full body of evidence, including the critical question of whether Lisa Friel and Jennifer Gaffney regarded Hill as a credible witness during eight hours of questioning on Wednesday, it’s impossible to know how this will unfold. That said, Goodell learned the hard way in the Ray Rice case that it’s much better to oversuspend than undersuspend.
Hill’s history — he admitted to choking and beating a then-pregnant Espinal in 2014 — makes him unsympathetic. Which could make Goodell more inclined to impose a longer suspension (with minimal risk of blowback, given Hill’s history) than a short one (with heightened risk of blowback, given Hill’s history).
However it plays out, Goodell is going to do whatever Goodell wants to do. And anyone who thinks they know what Goodell is going to do doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Unless they’re talking directly to Goodell.