KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Authorities in Johnson County declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and his fiancee Crystal Espinal in an investigation into an injury suffered by his 3-year-old child, but the Chiefs wide receiver could still find himself subject to a suspension under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.
The conduct policy revised last year says players can be subject to discipline for “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL personnel.”
But the league also reserves its right to compel players to cooperate with its own investigations when pending law enforcement proceedings. “A player's refusal to speak to a league investigator under such circumstances will not preclude an investigation from proceeding or discipline from being imposed,” the policy states.
“If he won’t talk to the league, he’s guilty,” wrote Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who also practiced law before turning to sportswriting. “If he talks to the league but he tells a story that isn’t believable or consistent, he’s guilty. If Espinal tries to take the blame but does so in a way that, given her clear financial interest in protecting Hill, seems flimsy or not credible, he’s guilty.”
While authorities declined to press charges against Hill, a child protection investigation remains under way by the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
Players who are not charged in a crime can still be disciplined by the league “if the credible evidence establishes that he engaged in conduct prohibited by the Personal Conduct Policy.”
With regard to violates of the policy that involved physical violence including child abuse, a first offense subjects players to a baseline suspension of six games with consideration given to other mitigating factors. One factor includes similar misconduct committed by the player before joining the NFL. Hill pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery against Espinal in August 2015.
The NFL in March handed down an eight-game suspension to former Chiefs running Kareem Hunt. That disciplined stemmed from a league investigation into two physical altercations involving Hunt in 2018, including one caught on a hotel security camera. Authorities did not charge Hunt in either incident.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott received a six-game suspension in August 2017 stemming from a violation of the policy involving domestic violence. Authorities did not charge Elliott in the case due to “conflicting and inconsistent information,” which is similar to the reasoning cited by the district attorney in the Hill investigation.
The NFL running back Adrian Peterson for six games in November 2014 after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of assault related to an incident involving his 4-year-old son. An arbitrator later overturned the suspension, but the NFL ultimately had the suspension upheld by the 8thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Whether the NFL hands down a similar penalty for Hill remains uncertain, but discipline remains one of the league's options under the Personal Conduct Policy.