Tyreek Hill will not be subject to NFL discipline upon entering the league but could be considered a repeat offender under its conduct policy if he is involved in another incident of domestic violence.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday that a player new to the league who has already been arrested or charged with with violent or threatening conduct would not be subject to initial punishment. Hill, a fifth-round draft pick by the Chiefs on Saturday, pleaded guilty in August 2015 to domestic abuse by strangulation of his pregnant girlfriend.
NFL players can receive a baseline six-game suspension without pay for a first offense of violent or threatening conduct, but McCarthy said that only applies when the first infraction occurs when the player is in the NFL. There is no NFL policy regarding players entering the league who have a domestic violence history, he said.
“Incoming prospects undergo a tremendous amount of scrutiny by interested clubs,” McCarthy wrote in an email. “Clubs make their decisions after a lengthy process.
“Working with our clubs, we continue to ensure that all players, including incoming drafted and undrafted rookies, understand our conduct standards and the expectations they must meet to play in the NFL. We emphasize our policies, programs and resources and every player must attend mandatory domestic violence and sexual assault education programs.”
McCarthy noted, however, that Hill could be subject to discipline by commissioner Roger Goodell and considered a repeat offender if another incident occurs, as outlined by the policy — which applies to all rookie players, whether they were selected in the draft or signed as undrafted free agents.
“Repeat offenders will be subject to enhanced and/or expedited discipline, including banishment from the league,” the policy reads. “When appropriate, conduct occurring prior to the person’s association with the NFL will be considered.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Hill — who received a deferred three-year sentence that expires in August 2018 — has had to complete a domestic-abuse evaluation, an anger-management course and a year-long batterer’s program, and will continue to undergo counseling in Kansas City.
The NFL changed its personal conduct policy toward the end of the 2014 season after high-profile incidents involving Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. Rice has not played in the league since video surfaced of him punching his then-fiancee and dragging her out of an elevator. Also that year, Hardy was arrested and charged with assaulting a woman. The charges against Hardy were expunged, but photos of her injuries surfaced last year and Hardy was not re-signed by the Cowboys.
“Anyone who has been arrested or charged with violent or threatening conduct that would violate this policy will be offered a formal clinical evaluation, the cost of which will be paid by the league, and appropriate follow-up education, counseling, or treatment programs,” McCarthy wrote. “These evaluations will be available at designated facilities around the country on a confidential basis.”
The league recently discontinued its annual rookie symposium, which commenced in 1997, in favor of a rookie transition program that asks teams to hold their own symposiums for rookies. The league contends the change was made to allow all rookies to participate in the program, which includes domestic violence education; the annual symposium used to be held in a central location, and was open only to drafted rookies.
“By shifting the model to the clubs from a centrally located program exclusive to drafted rookies, we can reach all of our rookies, introduce them to resources in their community, and afford them the experience from active and former players at their club who successfully transitioned into the NFL,” said Charles Way, the NFL’s vice president of player engagement, in a release.
The Chiefs’ rookie transition program will be June 22-24, along with the rest of the AFC teams, while NFC teams will hold their programs June 20-22.
Teams will be able to customize the orientation program, but McCarthy confirmed that domestic violence training will be included in each team’s sessions, which will include education about social responsibility, respect at work, mental health, character and values.
“This is in addition to additional training and educational programs that the rookies will receive later in the year with the entire team, including executives,” McCarthy wrote. “Every player and personnel of every team (and league office) must participate in mandatory sessions.”
McCarthy said more than 6,000 NFL team employees and personnel have participated in those sessions, which began in 2014. In the league’s 2015 social responsibility report, the league says the sessions “looked at the impact of family violence and sexual assault on the lives of victims and survivors and stressed the critical importance of bystander intervention.”