Could Tyreek Hill Case Signify New Model For Discipline In NFL?
The NFL's decision to not suspend Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill comes amid a "push among owners, some in powerful positions in the NFL hierarchy, for the league to get out of the investigation business and revert to following the lead of law enforcement," according to Albert Breer of SI.com. The new thinking "would explain the difference in the handling" of Hill's case and that of Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott in '17. There are also the CBA negotiations, which "loom over everything." Some believe the NFL is "going to be cautious in its handling of players between now and the consummation of a new labor deal." Breer writes Hill's case is complicated, but the NFL "needed to take action in this case," as it "has in cases like this before" (SI.com, 7/22). NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King asked, "This entire episode is not worth some sanction by the league? Even if it’s only because of his ominous threat against the woman?" The "inconsistency" of the Hill and Elliott rulings, and of Hill "getting nothing, cries out for an explanation" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/22).
TAKING CAUTION: ESPN’s Jason Fitz noted it is unknown whether Hill caused injury to his young son, or "whether his girlfriend caused it." Fitz: "Without that knowledge, how can the NFL actually punish him for something that they can’t have real proof that he did with another theory existing?" ESPN’s Ryan Smith said the case is a "very delicate situation for the NFL because they keep hanging themselves on this idea of evidence." The problem with the league's policy "from the very beginning" is that "you can only base it on what you can get" (“OTL,” ESPN, 7/19).In N.Y., Jane McManus wrote the Hill decision "isn’t satisfying," but it is "better than what came before." At the "very least, the NFL realizes it has to address these allegations and answer for its mistakes" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/20). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote under the header, "Making Sense Of The NFL’s Controversial Decision To Not Suspend Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill" (SI.com, 7/19).
COULD HAVE DONE MORE: In Boston, Tom Keegan notes the NFL's domestic violence policy "doesn’t say discipline 'must' be imposed, it says 'may.'" So given Hill’s "history of domestic violence, why does NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cut him slack?" Goodell has "decided to scale back on suspensions and has lost his stomach for fighting expensive legal challenges" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/22). Also in Boston, Jim McBride wrote Hill's case "would have seemed like an ideal time for the league to throw a yellow flag and send a strong message about domestic violence." Instead, it "threw up a white flag" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/21). ESPN’s Mina Kimes said it is "not entirely surprising" that the league "didn't go where the laws didn't on the issue." However, Hill's "threat was on tape and we know their history." Kimes: "That surprises me because in the past, the NFL has suspended players for threatening or emotionally abusing their partners” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN, 7/19). ESPN’s Damien Woody said, "I'm left scratching my head as to why the league can't be more transparent about how they got to this point" (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 7/19). ESPN’s Pablo Torre said the NFL is "always going to be poorly equipped to ever make a really accepted decision" on these issues (“High Noon,” ESPN, 7/19).
DISCIPLINARY STRATEGY: ESPN’s Woody also said the NFL "needs to take this whole piece of the pie and outsource it somewhere else." Domestic violence cases are "going to come up again with another player and we’re going to have the same type of questions again and again." The NFL should "outsource that somewhere else and get back to doing what you do really well, which is marketing and putting on a good product for the fans” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 7/19). PFT’s Mike Florio said the NFL has "decided that it’s in the interest of the business to have the best possible players play football." The league has "realized that the potential impact on TV ratings, and thus on the business, of not having Hill available to play is greater than the potential impact on the business of letting Hill play and dealing with whatever the fallout may be" (“PFT,” NBCSports.com 7/19). FS1's Shannon Sharpe said, "The NFL needs to get out of this business, not the NFL, but Roger Goodell. In the next CBA, (the NFL and NFLPA) need to come to an agreement that (the NFLPA) is going to have an independent arbitrator that's going to dole out the punishment." Sharpe: “(Goodell) suspends (Hill) for two games, that's not enough. He suspends him for a season, that's too much" (“Undisputed,” FS1, 7/22).
MORE TO COME? CBSSN’s Gary Parrish noted the NFL has "left open the opportunity to revisit the case, so perhaps it's not over” (“Time to Schein,” CBSSN, 7/19). The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Woody Paige called the move "smart," so the league can "see what might develop." Paige: "We don’t know whether (there) might be more audio or video proofs that come forward. They did the right thing in this situation after months of trying to do a thorough investigation" (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 7/19).