When the Chiefs selected Tyreek Hill in the fifth round back in May, general manager John Dorsey made it clear that he visited with both coach Andy Reid and chairman Clark Hunt before the selection.
On Saturday, Hunt — who has not spoken publicly since then — confirmed that was indeed the case, and gave some additional insight into why the Chiefs took a chance on Hill, who pleaded guilty last August to domestic abuse by strangulation of his pregnant girlfriend and received a three-year suspended sentence.
“John Dorsey did visit with me before the draft — he mentioned that it was a possibility,” Hunt said. “He walked through the diligence that he and his staff had done, and I have tremendous confidence in him and the work that they do.”
But did Hunt have any concern about how the move would be perceived?
“Sure — domestic violence is a very serious issue, and it’s never okay,” Hunt said. “I knew that there would be people who would be concerned about it. But I also felt confident that John and his staff had done a very good job of evaluating Tyreek and thought that he could come in here and fit in with the team and fit in with the community.”
What gives Hunt confidence Hill won’t have more issues?
“That’s really up to Tyreek,” Hunt said. “At the end of the day, he’s been given a great opportunity to be part of the Kansas City Chiefs and a part of this community. And in the three months that he’s been here, he’s done everything that has been asked of him.”
Hill was not the only player the Chiefs drafted with background concerns this year, albeit for less-serious issues. Third-round cornerback KeiVarae Russell was kicked out of Notre Dame for a year for violating the school’s honor code. Fourth-round receiver Demarcus Robinson was suspended four times in college, with the first three coming his freshman year because of failed marijuana tests. Sixth-round outside linebacker Dadi Nicolas once pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petty larceny.
To that end, Hunt was asked if the Chiefs will continue to take chances on players with background concerns.
“Well, John and Andy know that I believe in having a team that’s very high character all the way around,” Hunt said. “I think at the end of the day, that gives you a better chance to compete. Certainly, how the organization represents itself in the community is very important to me. That’s why it’s important upon John and his staff to do a lot of work.”
Hunt, however, also parroted Reid and Dorsey’s desire to selectively give some young players a second chance.
“A lot of young men, whether it’s in high school or college, make mistakes, but I also believe that sometimes, you can give somebody a second chance,” Hunt said. “We’ve all made mistakes, and some of these guys deserve an opportunity to show that’s not who they really are.”
Hunt also publicly addressed a number of other topics for the first time:
▪ On the tampering penalty that led to the forfeiture of a third-round pick this year: “I said at the time that we were very disappointed with the result. It is something that we’ve put in the rearview mirror, and I’m not going to go back and rehash it. We’ve moved on, looking forward to the start of the season.”
▪ On safety Eric Berry, who is skipping camp because he doesn’t have a long-term deal: “Well, we were disappointed to not be able to reach a long-term contract with Eric. He’s somebody we think very highly of. He’s been a great player on the field, does so much in the community. He’s a team leader. We certainly look forward to having him part of the team in 2016, and as soon as we have an opportunity next year, we’ll sit down with his representatives and see if we can work out a scenario where he could finish his career here.”
▪ On whether there’s a scenario in which that can really happen: “Well, I’ll just say every year is different. We couldn’t close the gap this year, but next year’s a different situation. I can’t say that there will be anything fundamentally that happens that would make it possible, but it’s certainly something that we’ll talk about.”
▪ On a contract extension for Reid, who is entering the fourth year of a five-year deal: “It’s not a conversation we’ve had yet. I would expect that at some point, we will though.”
▪ On whether that also applies to Dorsey: “Our contracts are not public, but … I’m very satisfied with the job both John and Andy are doing and hope that both will be part of the organization for a long time.”
▪ On how tackle Eric Fisher’s contract extension came together: “Those discussions all took place, really, in the two weeks leading up to camp. They went very quickly. We were hopeful of getting something done before camp and it just worked out that way.”
▪ On his expectations for 2016: “We’re in a situation where we have high expectations for the team. We’re trying to build off what we accomplished last year. I’ve jokingly said that I expect us to get off to a better start, and I think that goes without saying.”