Most of the items on the list of top storylines for 2019 focus on things that will happen when the regular season begins. This one focuses on something that will happen before the regular season starts.
And it’s an important question, given the undeniable skills and abilities of Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill. Embroiled for most of the year in legal issues related to the care of his young son, who has been removed from the custody of Hill and the child’s mother, the NFL has explored the situation — and the only question left is whether and to what extent the NFL will discipline Hill.
A source with knowledge of the situation told PFT on Wednesday that nothing has been scheduled beyond the eight-hour meeting recently conducted in Kansas City. That session occurred as part of the investigation; if/when Hill receives an involuntary invitation to New York City, it likely will be a precursor to a suspension (unless, of course, the Commissioner simply intend to give Hill an Ezekiel Elliott-style stern talking to).
Many have made a guess as to what will happen to Hill, but no one other than the Commissioner or a tight circle of his confidants know what that will be. Based on the four-game suspension imposed last year on Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith for threatening and engaging in emotional abuse of the mother of his child, Hill’s “you need to be terrified of me too, bitch” remark to Crystal Espinal could spark a similar punishment, especially in light of Hill’s history.
As to Hill’s history, the recent publication of secretly-recorded comments he made to Espinal in a Dubai airport contradict his public admission of guilt in connection with allegations that he choked and beat her in December 2014, when she was pregnant. Although he never was punished for that incident by the NFL (it happened more than a year before the Chiefs drafted him), the incident hovers over the pending case — and it gives greater weight to the threat he more recently made to Espinal.
The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy also permits additional punishment if the NFL concludes that Hill crossed the line when disciplining his son (regardless of whether there’s any evidence that Hill was involved in the breaking of the child’s arm, and currently there isn’t), and if the NFL believes that the circumstances resulting in Hill’s son being removed from the home constitute proof that Hill engaged in conduct that “[p]oses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person.”
However it plays out, Hill’s availability (or not) for the 2019 season will have a major impact on one of the best offenses in the NFL. The answer to that question necessarily becomes one of the biggest storylines of the season.