Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
1. NFL playing cynical game in Tyreek Hill situation
One of the more disgraceful aspects of the Tyreek Hill situation—and there are many—has been the NFL’s deafening silence.
Two weeks ago, Kansas City’s KCTV released a disturbing audio recording in which Hill was heard threatening his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, a woman he once admitted to choking and punching while she was pregnant. In the recording, Espinal accuses Hill of hitting their three-year old son and says the boy is “terrified” of Hill, to which the Chiefs star receiver responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—h.”
While the Chiefs suspended Hill indefinitely, the league has said nothing so far.
If you’ve covered this issue in football before (I’ve been doing it for decades) and you cover the NFL (which I’ve been covering since the early 1990s), you know exactly what is happening here.
The league is stalling.
This is the No. 1 rule of cynical NFL public relations. Don’t add to a story while it’s in the form of a mushroom cloud. Wait, stall, delay.
But there is an easy solution to this problem, found in the recent court cases of Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott.
Both Brady and Elliott challenged the power of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and failed. Brady appealed a four-game suspension for deflating footballs all the way to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and lost.
“We hold that the commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement,” the court stated in its ruling.
Elliott also appealed his six-game suspension over an alleged domestic violence incident to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He lost, too.
Different cases, but both rulings firmly established the same undeniable fact: Goodell can pretty much do whatever the hell he wants.
That’s why solving this issue is easy, and it goes like this…
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
2. A simple plan for handling Hill
1. Suspend Hill for six games next season. It can be easily justified, and the Elliott case offers a road map. He was suspended for six games despite a remarkably flawed NFL investigation, but the courts still upheld the suspension because the league’s CBA gives Goodell unprecedented power.
2. Don’t sweat the appeal. Hill likely would push back against any suspension. So what? Brady and Elliott both did, and look where it got them.
3. Rely on the evidence. The audio itself warrants a suspension.
Not for the possible abuse of Hill’s son, which Hill rebuts in the recording. I’m dealing strictly with the domestic violence aspect and clear threat everyone can hear. That alone should be enough to suspend Hill.
4: Use history as a guide. Normally, using a player’s past from before he entered the NFL would be unacceptable. Not in this case. The fact Hill pleaded guilty to attacking his then-pregnant girlfriend, Espinal, is relevant to the context of the audio and any current punishment. In other words, the previous crime was so heinous, it puts into perspective the recorded threat. And when the current case fits into a pattern, especially in a case of potential abuse, that should not be ignored.
5. Remember who’s boss. If all other reasoning fails, fall back on the authority of the commissioner. High courts have repeatedly established Goodell’s power is unbeatable.
A key part of the NFL’s personal conduct policy reads: “It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
It’s hard to argue Hill hasn’t run afoul of those standards, which makes the league’s silence on this matter so disheartening.
In the cases of Brady and Elliott, the league acted quickly when it had flimsy evidence. But now, it’s moving glacially despite having strong evidence.
On the surface, that makes no sense. Then again, this is the NFL.
3. The ugly truth
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press
When it comes to domestic violence and the NFL, the biggest problem is that many teams still believe adding a player who’s been accused of violence against women outweighs the potential risks.
When the Chiefs drafted Hill, they made a clear decision that his speed and skills were worth employing someone who had already admitted to committing a particularly heinous assault.
To be fair, the Chiefs weren’t the first to make this calculation. At some point, every team has weighed such a choice, and every team will continue to do so because there are few negatives to taking the chance.
As long as that’s the case, little will change.
4. Ego run amok
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann has long been appreciated by people like me who grew up a fan of the team (I’m not any longer). He helped bring a Super Bowl trophy to Washington, and fans never forgot that.
But the way Theismann handled Dwayne Haskins’ request to wear his No. 7 jersey was ludicrous.
Though the number is not retired, Theismann told Haskins to think for a few days about taking another number. The two talked and Theismann eventually gave his blessing, but was all the hand-wringing worth it for a number that was technically available?
Peter King of NBC Sports put it into the proper perspective:
“Joe Theismann even seeming to suggest Dwayne Haskins had to kiss his ring before being rewarded with the number seven jersey in Washington is really weird, and a little bit mindful of the Emperor with No Clothes. Would anyone think that a man with fewer passing yards than Steve Grogan and Jim Harbaugh, with fewer touchdown passes than Earl Morrall and Jon Kitna, with a lower career rating than Kyle Orton and Dave Krieg … should have his number retired? … The fact that Washington never gave Theismann’s number out for years after his gruesome injury is a nice gesture, I suppose. But it’s silly to think he was an all-timer, the kind of player whose number should never be worn again.”
5. He wasn’t drafted to sit
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
One last thing on Washington and its current quarterback situation.
Several teams see the same thing many of us do: Haskins likely will start the season over Case Keenum, whom Washington traded for in March.
This isn’t necessarily a shock, but I was surprised by the certainty of their beliefs. There was apparently a lot more support for Haskins than teams were letting on during the draft (shocker).
6. The NFL from the inside
Malcolm Jenkins @MalcolmJenkins
One of my favorite plays from last season. I was actually supposed to blitz! 😳 I realized no one is covering the 3rd receiver, then the ball is snapped.
When mistakes are made you just gotta survive the down. These are the things I take pride in.
Then make it look easy 😤 https://t.co/Kded6gWI4q
We need to see more players take us inside their world, like Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins recently did in a video he posted on Twitter of a play that went wrong but turned out right. It’s a fascinating snapshot of how the real NFL works.
It isn’t always pretty and perfectly executed. In fact, most of the time, it isn’t. Players and coaches often act on the fly either because of mistakes or something the other team does.
Jenkins’ video demonstrates just how smart these guys are. Please, let’s see more.
7. Prescott’s about to get paid
Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press
A source close to Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been persistent in telling me that both the Cowboys and their quarterback believe a new deal will be reached soon.
Owner Jerry Jones is fully onboard the Prescott train, and since he is, a new deal is almost certain to get done.
“We’re sold on Dak, and we do want to have him for the long term,” Jones said on the Rich Eisen Show. “We think he’s worthy of investing in for the long term … We see real upside in Dak. You don’t have it all yet.”
Yes, Prescott will get his cash soon, as he should.
8. Teacher Appreciation Day
Tom Strattman/Associated Press
Rodney Harrison will be inducted this year into the Patriots Hall of Fame. It’s a well-deserved honor.
Harrison was a ferocious safety who excelled in coverage and was a nasty hitter, too. Yes, he could be dirty as hell. Still, he was a special player.
Harrison spent the last six years of his 15-year career with the Patriots, with whom he played in three Super Bowls and won two. Whenever someone who played years for Bill Belichick leaves the game, they always describe him in interesting ways. Harrison’s remarks about Belichick didn’t disappoint (via a team transcript):
“When I came over here to the Patriots, the thing that I loved about Coach Belichick was we had purpose. Everything that we were doing, it had a purpose. It was just really good to get around a bunch of other people that really loved football. …
“Tom [Brady] and all my teammates and Coach Belichick and all the coaches … we immersed ourselves in just learning football and knowing football. … Coach Belichick wasn’t about favoritism or anything like that. He was about you coming in, doing what you have to do, being a pro and earning your keep, and that’s what I loved about him. He … gave me an opportunity and he didn’t have any preconceived notions of me … and that’s all I ever wanted.”
9. A good omen for Daniel Jones?
Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Last year, at least one team asked Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to work out at tight end before the draft. He refused. He became the starter in Baltimore and led the Ravens to the playoffs. Good for him.
This year, at least one team asked quarterback Daniel Jones to work out at tight end at the draft combine, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. He also refused. Good for him, too.
The idea that Jones could transform into an NFL-caliber tight end after not playing the position at Duke is one of the dumbest of all time. Same as it was with Jackson. It’s just stupid. They’re quarterbacks.
So, there does seem to be a bit of good news for Jones after the Giants’ decision to select him sixth overall enraged many of their fans and perplexed NFL insiders. If teams were dead wrong about Jackson, they may well be dead wrong about Jones.
10. ‘He had a good personality’
Tony Romo is probably the best broadcaster going today, although I’m also partial to ESPN’s Booger McFarland. But this video (via Cheesehead TV’s Aaron Nagler) is a reminder why the broadcast team of Pat Summerall and John Madden were so good and remain the gold standard.
They were obviously football savants, but they were funny, too. Unlike some broadcast teams today, they also never took themselves too seriously.
All these decades later, we know they were rare.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.