Messy Even Without Finality

      A tenth of a second.

    Just think what a difference a tenth of a second makes in the National Football League. Tyreek Hill ran 4.29 at his pro day (he wasn’t invited to the NFL combine). That is elite, among a handful of players who have broken 4.3. But if he had run 4.4, he would just be fast, not uber-fast, eye-popping fast.

     And given his domestic violence conviction while at Oklahoma State, it is almost certain that a fast, but not supernova fast, Hill would not have been drafted, and might not even be in the NFL today. But the Kansas City Chiefs saw that game-changing speed and took the risk of drafting Hill. Many (including myself) objected to it, and I stick to that to this day. People deserve second chances in life, but in my mind that doesn’t mean the privilege of playing in the NFL, and representing a city.

     But the Chiefs did, and three eye-popping on the field, and quiet off the field, years later, this had looked like a success story. Until now. Hill has not yet been accused of a crime in a domestic battery incident that reportedly resulted in Hill’s three-year-old son breaking his arm. That is the child that his fiancée Crystal Espinal was pregnant with when the incident occurred that resulted in Hill pleading guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation in 2015. He received three-year’s probation, completed it in 2018, and the charge was expunged.

     Now there is an investigation into this incident, or incidents. Reports indicate police twice within a less than a two week span investigated suspected domestic battery at Hill and Espinal’s residence, with the first incident closed without prosecution. The Kansas Department of Children and families confirms that it is investigating. Nothing good can come of this. Something truly awful might well be avoided, but there is too much at play here to merely brush it away if charges end up not being pressed against Hill.

     We are already hearing the cries that Hill is a victim here. That these are unconfirmed reports and that Hill is being found guilty in the court of public opinion. These people so clearly only care about football, and the hope that Hill will be scoring touchdowns for the Chiefs or their fantasy league teams in 2019.

     There are so many potential layers. Espinal’s name reportedly appears in the investigation as well. If she were to be deemed the guilty party, then there is at the very least a volatile home situation. If Hill was guilty it would be remarkably cut and dried. He would be cut and likely be done with football. Let’s hope for all concerned that neither of those things happened.

     But Ms. Espinal has already returned to the man that abused her, and that man is (or was) perhaps weeks away from a gigantic contract. Would I have suspicions that she is taking the fall if she is deemed the guilty party? I am frank to admit that I absolutely would.

     If no charges at all are filed, the waters are still muddy to me. Obviously, there was enough smoke for police to investigate two different incidents at the home. The three-year-old’s arm is still broken. Could it just have been an accident? Sure. But there was some reason for investigation, and three-year-old’s aren’t often capable of things where you usually break an arm, like falling out of a tree.

     I hope that we get some stunning clarity that makes this situation seem wildly blown out of proportion, but that seems exponentially optimistic. It already appears that there will be enough questions that from a pure football and business situation (which at this point is still way down the list of concerns) that the Chiefs have to have serious second thoughts about a monstrous contract extension for Hill, which seemed quite likely mere days ago.

     Is that unfair? You might think so, I don’t. Hill’s past behavior has stripped at least some of the benefit of the doubt from his world, just like any average citizen would suffer in his situation. He also is still  involved in a relationship that at least at one time was toxic, and Hill and Espinal are about to welcome two twins into this mix.

     The Chiefs have too much bad history in this area. If they treat this situation in some kind of a vacuum, they are fools. Even if you fall into the category, which unfortunately exists, of fans who thought the treatment of Kareem Hunt was hasty, the Chiefs DID cut him, and if this incident falls on Hill, there won’t be a one percent chance of Hill playing football for the Chiefs. And even in an NFL where talent trumps almost everything, I doubt there would be a landing spot for him.

     We are still in the infancy of this story. There are virtually no certainties other that police did come to the residence twice to investigate potential domestic battery. An off-season that has already raised numerous questions for the Chiefs just added another whopper.

     And once we were one-tenth of a second from never knowing anything about it.

Danny Clinkscale