Editorials

Kansas City Chiefs fans who excuse abusers like Tyreek Hill are part of the problem

Andy Reid says Tyreek Hill case reopened

Andy Reid said the criminal case involving Tyreek Hill and his fiancee has been reopened. Reid referred people to the statement Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made Thursday night.
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Andy Reid said the criminal case involving Tyreek Hill and his fiancee has been reopened. Reid referred people to the statement Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made Thursday night.

Goodbye for now to the old Kansas City Chiefs star in trouble — again — over allegations of domestic violence.

Let’s not talk about that, says coach Andy Reid at a Friday news conference. Because “today is Frank’s day.”

Say hello to the new Chiefs star who, just like the old one, was kicked out of college for domestic violence.

When you know what you like, stick with it?

Maybe bringing defensive end Frank Clark to Kansas City from Seattle will turn out to be the team’s best move ever. Maybe he really will turn out to be, as general manager Brett Veach said Friday, “a great player with a big heart that’s going to do great things for the Chiefs on and off the field.”

But we’ve heard that before. And when you keep making the same move, with the same result, it’s usually time to rethink.

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More than a month ago, The Star reported that police and child welfare authorities were investigating an incident involving Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who pleaded guilty to domestic assault after strangling his girlfriend, Crystal Espinal, while she was pregnant in 2014.

That child is 3 now. And according to a source familiar with the situation, his arm was broken in that recent incident. He has since been removed from the custody of Hill and Espinal. “Why does (he) say, ‘Daddy did it?’ Espinal asked Hill on a recording that aired on KCTV-5 on Thursday. “A 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”

“He is terrified of you,” she told him. He answered, “You need to be terrified of me, too, dumb b----.”

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In additional audio that aired on Friday, Hill told Espinal he sometimes wishes they’d never had kids — or sex, for that matter. “Dumb b----,” he called her, and added that telling him their son is terrified is “why you can’t keep a man.”

We’ve written a lot about the culpability of team and league officials when history repeats itself. There will always, it seems, be second chances for those who are the fastest and most powerful, even when they turn that strength against the women and children they claim to love.

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The other parties who are in some measure to blame? Those of you Chiefs fans who always find a way to convince yourselves that such allegations are false. Even when video showed running back Kareem Hunt pushing and then kicking a woman who was on the ground, some loyalists found a way to blame everyone but him: She started it, they said.

Maybe the most damaging mistake some fans in denial make again and again is to blame an abuser’s partner, as if the two have anything approaching equal power and sense of safety and freedom. When you say well, she’s at fault, too, for staying with an abuser or not working more closely with cops, think for just a minute about how cooperative you might be if doing so could get you killed. And we know that women in abusive relationships are most likely to be killed when or right after they leave.

Yet we’re used to assigning victims the responsibility for what happens to them. “His baby momma is doing everything possible to sabotage this man,” a commenter on The Star’s Facebook page said of Espinal. “None of us know the entire situation. I heard the tape. I don’t condone the threats, but it definitely appears she was deliberately recording him.”

Can you think of any reasons a woman who is pregnant, who was severely beaten the last time she was pregnant, might lie to authorities? Someone who has heard, “You ought to be terrified of me, too, dumb b----,” might even feel she needed proof of those threats.

Surely by now, most Chiefs fans have had it with this modus operandi, and rightly so. But even when the Johnson County district attorney said he believed a crime had been committed against Hill’s son, yet wouldn’t be able to prove that in court, the only part of this that some fans heard was that no charges would be filed. Complete exoneration!

The case has been reopened now. But even if it hadn’t been, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker asked the right question in a tweet: “what will this community say about a man who strikes a 3YO with a closed fist and then cowers behind legal standards? Let’s not make this overly difficult. He is an unrepentant abuser of a completely innocent child.”

If fans had no patience with scenarios like this, neither would any team anywhere.

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