In 2017, Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Code relating to domestic violence allegations for which he was never charged or prosecuted.After conducting its own internal investigation, and because the league has decided it should not be held to the same burden of proof as a court of law, the NFL determined it was still troubled enough by Elliott’s actions to punish him.
On Monday, the league announced it is suspending Seattle DT Jarran Reed six games to start this season for a violation of the Personal Conduct Code stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident in 2017 for which — wait for it — he was never charged or arrested.
Reed has said he “totally disagrees” with the league’s decision but is taking responsibility for the situation.
In August of 2015, the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill pleaded guilty to punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Espinal, and was given three years probation, ordered to attend a 52-week batterer intervention course and then undergo supervision for two years.
This past spring, Hill was again involved in an incident of alleged domestic abuse, accused of breaking the arm of his three-year-old son, the same child Espinal – now Hill’s ex-fiance – was pregnant with at the time of the initial incident.
Little was known about the recent case until an audiotape surfaced of Hill and Espinal discussing it.
On the tape, Espinal is heard telling Hill that their son said, “Daddy did it,” to which Hill responds he didn’t and, “he says Daddy does a lot of things.”
Later on the 11-minute audio, Espinal tells Hill their son “is terrified of you,” to which Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.”
Later still, Espinal says to Hill, “What do you do when the child is bad? You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”
There have been no denials, at least publicly, that it is Hill and Espinal on the audio or arguments that it was altered in any way.
Apparently that is just where this story starts.
Having completed the conditions of his original 2015 plea, the case against Hill in that incident was dismissed in August of 2018 and his record was expunged.
Technically, he is no longer a convicted felon.
And later in the 11-minute audio, Hill even denies that he did what he pleaded guilty to in Oklahoma five years earlier, saying, “I didn’t touch you in 2014, I would put that on everything I love, bro. That’s the real truth.”
After Espinal responds, “Then where did the bruises come from, Tyreek?”
Hill then asks, “Did I hit you, though?” and then a brief time later adds, “Tell the truth.”
Hill seemingly admits bruising her but denies hitting her?
With all that, the league announced last Friday that Hill will not be punished because of a lack of evidence and the All Pro’s claims that a great deal of what we know is being taken out of context.
This incident remains under investigation by the Kansas Department of Children’s and Family Services, and Hill is currently separated from his son.
That domestic abuse can be complicated is a massive understatement, and Hill must be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Legally.
But in what appear to be at least slightly less egregious cases, and with what legal authorities deemed not enough evidence to continue investigating, the league somehow landed hard on Elliott and Reed, and even harder on Hill’s former teammate, Kareem Hunt.
There apparently is this issue of “context,” so let’s break our backs bending over to understand.
In what context in this universe does that 11-minute audiotape brand Hill as anything less than a serial abuser?
No one here is looking to abuse Hill. I would much rather see him rehabilitated than destroyed by his own disease.
But by their actions here, the idea that Roger Goodell and his team owners care as much about victims of domestic violence as they do about money and TV ratings, or frankly that they care about them at all, feels like a 90-yard field goal to win a Super Bowl.