Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said he was “deeply disturbed” by audio of Tyreek Hill discussing injuries to his 3-year-old son but declined to elaborate on the case citing an ongoing criminal investigation.
The most visible face of the Chiefs’ ownership family, Hunt spoke briefly with reporters Saturday while the team was holding its annual draft party. He declined to discuss the team’s plans for Hill but did acknowledge that the star wide receiver’s legal problems are an embarrassment for the team.
“It is obviously a tough situation for the organization,” Hunt said.”
Hill has been suspended from all team-related activities after audio surfaced Wednesday in which he discusses abusing his son. Hill also told his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, that she should be “terrified” of him during an 11-minute discussion that took place in a Dubai airport.
The audio surfaced one day after prosecutors declined to press charges against Hill following a domestic violence investigation. They said at the time that they were convinced a crime had occurred, but were unable to determine whether it was Hill or Espinal that hurt their son.
Prosecutors reopened the case on Friday after receiving the audio from a local TV station.
Hunt said the team was conducting its own investigation, though it’s unclear how much information that Johnson County District Attorney’s office will make available. The NFL is also involved in the case, and it’s possible that Roger Goodell could place Hill on the commissioner’s exempt list.
“We were deeply disturbed by the audio, which we heard on Thursday, and that’s why he’s not with the organization at this point,” Hunt said, “and we expect that will be the case until we have a chance to work through whatever information we are able to get.”
There has been speculation that the Chiefs could release Hill once this weekend’s NFL draft is over, but Hunt declined to discuss those internal deliberations. He did say that “there are a couple of ongoing investigations relating to Tyreek and we’re going to have to let that process play out.”
The Chiefs have been lambasted by fans league-wide for their history in domestic violence cases. In 2012, linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend before driving to the team facility and committing suicide. And last year, the Chiefs quickly cut star running back Kareem Hunt when video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman in an Ohio hotel hallway.
Hill was drafted by the Chiefs and then-GM John Dorsey despite numerous red flags. He had been kicked off the team at Oklahoma State after punching Espinal while she was pregnant, and many teams said off the record that the incident caused them to take Hill off their draft boards altogether.
Dorsey and Chiefs coach Andy Reid insisted at the time that they did “due diligence” in selecting Hill, and that they were confident that he would make the most of a second chance.
“Before you are given the opportunity for a second chance, you better be doing the right things,” Reid said. “We have a great support system here for that, with quality people. We feel good that he is trying to right a wrong — a big wrong. It is a big wrong, but he is trying to do better and be a better person for it. That part, we feel very confident in.”
Hunt said that the Chiefs have not necessarily changed how they vet players, whether in the draft or acquired through trades and free agency. But he did admit there is risk with every player.
“Could be his playing ability. Could be things that distract him off the field as well as the trouble they get into,” Hunt said. “That’s a risk you take. It’s something that as a franchise we have to be willing to own when it doesn’t go the right way. That’s something I believe in.”