Tyreek Hill has been cleared to report to Chiefs training camp next week after the NFL said Friday it would not suspend the star wide receiver under its personal conduct policy after a domestic violence case involving his 3-year-old son.
The league spent eight hours interviewing Hill late last month about the case, which came to light after a recording of Hill and his fiance, Crystal Espinal, aired on television station KCTV5.
During the conversation, Espinal accused Hill of hurting their son. Police launched an investigation into potential child abuse, but the Johnson County, Kansas, district attorney announced he could not charge Hill because it was not clear how the boy had sustained his injuries.
“Based on the evidence presently available, the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy,” the NFL said in a statement. “He may attend Kansas City’s training camp and participate in all club activities. He has been and will continue to be subject to conditions set forth by the District Court, Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, and the Chiefs, which include clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention.”
The Chiefs report to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, next week. Their first full-squad workout is scheduled for July 27.
“Based on the information provided to us by the league, we have decided it is appropriate for Tyreek to return to the team at the start of training camp,” the Chiefs said in a statement. “The club fully supports the conditions for return laid out by the league and will continue to monitor any new developments in the case. We are glad to welcome Tyreek back to the team.”
The league said that “information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us” and all law enforcement records are sealed.
“Local law enforcement authorities have publicly advised that the available evidence does not permit them to determine who caused the child’s injuries,” the NFL said.
The criminal investigation into Hill began in March, when police were called to his home twice and determined that his son had broken his arm. But it became public knowledge with KCTV5 aired an 11-minute recording made by Espinal in an airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in which she tells Hill that when the boy was asked about his injured arm he replied: “Daddy did it.”
Hill denied any role in what happened to the child, saying: “He says Daddy does a lot of things.” And when Espinal says their son is “terrified of you,” Hill replies: “You need to be terrified of me, too.”
The audio, allegations of abuse and subsequent investigation were enough for the Chiefs to announce in the midst of the NFL draft in April that they were suspending him from all team activities. Hill did not participate in any voluntary summer workouts or the team’s mandatory minicamp.
At the time, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said he was “deeply disturbed” by the audio recording.
The case took another turn earlier this month, when Kansas City radio station 610 KCSP aired the full audio of the argument from the Dubai airport. Hill not only denied hurting his son, he also denied hurting Espinal in 2015, when he pleaded guilty to a domestic assault and battery charge.
Hill told Espinal that she “ruined” his life with those allegations. He was dismissed from the team at Oklahoma State and ended up at West Alabama, where he underwent counselling and court-mandated service work. He also played for the football team, and the Chiefs ultimately decided to take a chance on him by selecting the speedster in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.
Hill had stayed out of trouble since arriving in Kansas City, becoming not only one of the best wide receivers in the league but one of the most popular players on the team.
Last season, he shattered a series of franchise receiving records by catching 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hill’s connection with young star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a big reason why Kansas City won its third AFC West title and advanced to the conference championship game, where they took the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to overtime.
Hill, who is also one of the most dynamic return men in football, was voted to his third consecutive Pro Bowl and voted first-team All-Pro. He also was in line for a big contract extension, though those talks were shelved as the Chiefs and the NFL considered his off-the-field situation.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.
Dave Skretta, The Associated Press