Chiefs' Tyreek Hill addresses tumultuous NFL offseason

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — As Tyreek Hill walked down the long hill that leads from the Kansas City Chiefs’ locker room to the practice fields, he was greeted by cheers and chants of his name that seemed to energize him as he stretched out his arms, pounded his chest, pumped his fist and started jogging toward his teammates.

This was a sunny Saturday afternoon, just minutes before the Chiefs’ first full-squad training camp, and after a tumultuous five months that included moments that seemed to put his burgeoning NFL career in doubt, no Chief was happier to be back with his teammates than the 25-year-old, two-time All-Pro.

“The love feels good, to come out here and hear the chants, it’s crazy man,” Hill said Sunday, which marked the first time he has answered questions from reporters in months. “So I’m back. Cheetah’s back, man.”

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill throws the ball during NFL football training camp Saturday, July 27, 2019, in St. Joseph, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Hill addresses secretly recorded conversation

Hill, the Chiefs’ star receiver, has been ensnared in a child-abuse investigation since March, one that didn’t produce any charges or any discipline from the NFL. That hasn’t kept people from sharing opinions on his situation. On this day, Hill had a chance to share opinions of his own for about eight minutes.

“I can’t wait for my new journey, man — I’m excited,” Hill said. “I'm working every day to be a better father, a better person, a better citizen, a better teammate and a better son to my parents. I'm evolving every day.”

Hill didn’t address specific questions regarding the Kansas Department of Children and Families case — “I cannot get into that … I wish I could, but I can’t,” Hill said, when asked what he has to do to regain custody of his son — but he elaborated on some topics, including what he made of allegations he punched his 3-year-old son in the chest, what he’d say to those who remain skeptical about his character and what he learned from the entire ordeal.

“I learned to just appreciate those around me man, because I feel like I take that for granted sometimes,” Hill said. “Being a professional athlete, I tend to not stay humble sometimes. I still love my kids and my family, but sometimes I feel like I take all of those things for granted.”

Hill said the lingering fallout related to a secretly recorded conversation between Hill and his ex-fiancee, Crystal Espinal, offered a reminder of how fleeting things can be. Parts of the audio, which were aired by a local news TV station the night of the NFL draft (just one day after the district attorney declined to press abuse charges), ignited a firestorm and led to the Chiefs suspending him from team activities.

“To be honest, I didn’t know that existed until it came out,” Hill explained.

One flashpoint of the audio was the part in which he told Espinal “you ought to be terrified of me too, dumb bitch — that’s why you can’t keep a [expletive] man.”

In 2015, Hill pleaded guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation of Espinal in exchange for a deferred three-year sentence. He completed his probation requirements and the case records were expunged.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said Saturday that hearing the entire tape, which aired on a Kansas City radio station in early July, “put it in context,” though Hunt also added that he’s sure Hill regrets the “inappropriate language,” which Hill confirmed Sunday.

“I feel like all of us can learn something from that situation,” Hill said. “I’m just here to man up to what I did. Like on the audio, my bad language, I’m gonna man up to that. Like, I don’t want anybody talking to my little sister, my daughter that I have now, my mom like that. It’s very disrespectful.”

Hill says his mom was critical of him for that.

“She like bumped me in the head like, ‘Come on ‘Reek, grow up out of that,’” Hill said. “Never again. Like I said, I’m growing as a human being, as a person. Never again.”

20 PHOTOS
Tyreek Hill through the years
See Gallery
Tyreek Hill through the years
Feb 2, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tyreek Hill during red carpet arrivals for the NFL Honors show at the Fox Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2019; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Kansas City fullback Andrew Sherman (42) and receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during AFC practice for the 2019 Pro Bowl at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs for a touchdown against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) during the first quarter in an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) warms up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) catches a pass against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman (28) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) attempts to catch a pass in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 40-33. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs the ball as San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (48) attempts the tackle during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reacts to a call after wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 20: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before the AFC Championship Game game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs on January 20, 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs teases his son, Zev, by leaning away from a kiss during pregame warmups prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on December 13, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters (22) and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) after a NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams on November 19, 2018, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 4, 2018: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kansas City won 37-21. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before an AFC West showdown between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs on December 10, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 08: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before a Thursday night AFC West showdown between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs on December 08, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2014 file photo Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill, left, is chased by Oklahoma defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue (98) runs a punt return in to tie the game in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla. Hill was arrested Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2014 file photo is Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Hill was arrested Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill (24) carries in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Oklahoma State won 37-20. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
30 August 2014 - Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Tyreek Hill (#24) tries to break free of Florida State Seminoles linebacker Terrance Smith (#24) during the Advocare Cowboys Classic college football game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Florida State won the game 37-31. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Details of meeting with NFL investigators

Hill also attempted to provide context during the presser to Espinal’s allegations that he punched their son in the chest.

“I really can’t get into that, but punching my son in the chest, that would probably refer to me teaching my son how to box, because we do have boxing gloves at our house, and our son … loves Iron Man, Aquaman, and he’s like ‘Daddy come on, come on, come on’ all the time,” Hill said. “So that’s what it is, man. Sometimes things get thrown out of context when feelings get involved and emotions. But I’m not gonna get into all that right now.”

Hill had a chance to get into all of it during an 8 1/2-hour meeting with NFL investigators in late June. A couple of weeks later, the NFL opted against fining, suspending or otherwise disciplining Hill for anything regarding the matter.

“Roger Goodell and his team, they did their thing,” said Hill, who added he wasn’t sure what the NFL would do until it ruled. “They dug in and they got all the facts. I’m appreciative for those guys as well.”

Following Hill’s reinstatement, Hunt said he had a “good” visit with Hill earlier this week, one that resulted in a “very frank” conversation about Hill’s responsibility as he returns to the team.

“I really can’t get into all that,” Hill said, when asked for details, “but all I’m gonna say is I’ve just got to work on my life skills — that’s it.”

Hill says he felt supported by his teammates and coaches through the ordeal, which is why he calls them family.

“Because that’s what they are,” Hill said. “They trusted me, brought me in this organization, and that’s what I’m so appreciative of. They gave me a chance at life so I can change my family’s life, my kids’ lives and everyone around me. I came from nothing, so I’m very appreciative of it.”

Hill concluded his news conference by again thanking the support of the fans, many of whom roundly cheered him as he made play after play during the Chiefs’ first two practices of training camp.

“Cheetah’s back, man — thank you for the support Chiefs Kingdom, and I love you,” Hill said. “Like I said, I’m growing as a person each and every day.

“And for the reporters, man, hey — my story’s crazy, it’s gonna be somebody’s testimony one day,” Hill said. “I’m telling y’all. Thank you.”

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.