Up until six weeks ago Tyreek Hill was the poster boy for second chances. With a violent conviction on his record he slid into the 5th round of the 2016 NFL draft, when the Chiefs selected him. A selection that carried with it plenty of risk and plenty of controversy.
But three years into Hill’s NFL career there hadn’t been a whiff of the same man who put his hands around the neck of his pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Espinal. He’d been a model citizen and that girlfriend, now his fiancée, is currently pregnant with twins.
Then two separate police reports came to light in March. His son suffered a broken arm, but it’s unclear the timeline. An investigation was launched by the Johnson County Kansas District Attorney, only to result in no charges, but a declaration by the D.A. that a crime had indeed been committed – he just didn’t know who committed it.
Then the very next day a friend of Hill’s fiancée released a tape the fiancée made of Hill while walking through the airport in Dubai in which Espinal accuses Hill of punching their 3-year old son in the chest. In the exchange Hill lashes out at her, saying, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.”
Following the tape Hill was suspended from all team activities by the Chiefs and the calls for release began to grow. His days in Kansas City looked numbered, with the team just waiting for the NFL to put Hill on its exempt list.
Then yesterday in a twist no one saw coming ESPN obtained a four-page letter from Hill’s attorney, written to the investigative team of the NFL. That letter explains away all of the accusations made in the Dubai tape and claims hundreds of text messages have been given to authorities that have been authenticated by forensics. And in those text messages Hill’s fiancée takes responsibility for the injuries to their son and says she only accused Hill because she was angry.
So, what is a Chiefs fan supposed to think? What can we believe? Who can we trust?
One thing is very clear. This is a toxic relationship and a young boy is sadly caught in the middle of it. And two more children are about to be added to the mix. Those children must be the most important consideration in the entire situation.
Above and beyond that, however, there seems to be very little else that we can be sure of.
The text messages above do appear to use strange and stilted language. The internet exploded last night regarding them, with flying accusations that they are a plant by Hill’s legal team. But as was stated in the letter, hundreds of other texts have been released. If these two texts stand out as unusual, that will be obvious to investigators. I’ll let the people with all of the information make that determination.
If Espinal did in fact break their son’s arm and then accuse Hill, she should be looking at jail time. If Hill knew she did this to their son but covered for her, he should be punished as well. And if in the conclusion of this sorted mess it comes out that Hill hurt their son and then orchestrated a cover up through his attorney and the released text messages, he should never see a football field again.
But those are a whole lot of ifs. Too many ifs, too many possibilities, and not enough certainties to destroy a man’s life. To further destroy a family that’s already on the brink.
So who do we believe? Who do we trust?
Truth be told, I don’t trust either of them. Hill has his past, and there’s no excusing what he said to Espinal on the tape. But it was just revealed at the beginning of this week that Espinal was seen passed at out their home while she was in charge of watching their son. Hill saw her on a security video while he was in a hotel and called 9-1-1 to send an ambulance. So something strange and yet to be explained is also going on with her.
The people I will believe are the investigators with the NFL. If the D.A. reopens the case in Johnson County, as has been rumored, I will believe him. If the professionals that are trained to weed through these contradictions and puzzlements can come to a conclusion, I will accept it, believe it, and trust it.
But with the season still four months away there is absolutely no reason to rush this. If this was September, sure. A decision would need to be made. But it’s May. Hill isn’t with the team. He isn’t receiving game checks. Football isn’t being played.
This is big. This is important. A man’s career, his redemption, and the quality of life for three children are ultimately at stake. Getting this right is more important than getting this fast.