Since the Chiefs selected Tyreek Hill with the 165th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the reaction in Kansas City has ranged from outrage to concern and more.
But Hill on Saturday said he understands why he is receiving criticism. He pleaded guilty last August to domestic abuse by strangulation of his pregnant girlfriend and received a three-year suspended sentence.
“Oh yes sir, no doubt, no doubt,” Hill said, while addressing reporters at the start of the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp. “Those fans have every right to be mad at me, because I did something wrong, I let my emotions get the best of me. and I shouldn’t have did it. They have every right to be mad.
“But guess what? I’m (about) to come back and be a better man, be a better citizen, and everything will take care of itself, and let God do the rest.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid also said he understood why selecting Hill, a returner and receiver, caused such a strong reaction.
“No, I completely understand — I’m sensitive to the situation,” Reid said. “I get it … I’ve talked to women on the other side of this. I’m very sensitive to that.”
Reid again mentioned that his wife, Tammy, has been active aiding domestic violence causes since he became a NFL head coach. When asked what his wife thought about the decision to select Hill, Reid said Hill’s efforts to better himself played a role in her acceptance. Hill had to complete a domestic-abuse evaluation, an anger-management course and a year-long batterer’s program as part of his sentence, and will continue to undergo counseling in Kansas City.
“Counseling was a big part of it — is he willing to go and do that,” Reid said. “That step is huge. To actually admit you were wrong … a lot of people won’t do that, they just won’t go there. On top of that, to try to fix yourself, and make it right, to her, those are valuable, valuable steps.”
Hill, who was arrested in December 2014 in Stillwater, Okla., and dismissed from Oklahoma State the same month, said he struck and choked the victim, then two months pregnant, according to a transcript of his plea hearing obtained Tuesday by The Star. The victim, who gave birth to Hill’s child, has been unavailable for comment since Hill was drafted.
“I — I did something that — I did something that I shouldn’t have done that night, which was I just let my feelings take — take control of me,” Hill told associate district judge Stephen Kistler in August 2015. “I wasn’t thinking. I just — I just reacted and hit her, choked her. I’m real sorry for that.”
Following his selection by the Chiefs on April 30, Hill was asked what he had learned. He originally said he’d try to avoid a similar situation again by choosing his friends better.
When asked Saturday about that statement — and how it might be construed as a remark about the victim — Hill said: “That’s the very wrong way to look at it. I don’t blame (anybody) but myself. It’s my fault, and it’s my mistake. Nobody (can) live my life but me, so I just have to deal with it.”
The prosecutor in the case, Payne County (Okla.) district attorney Laura Thomas, told The Star this week that her office repeatedly consulted the victim about the terms of Hill’s plea agreement, which will keep Hill out of jail and remove the incident from his record in August 2018 if he completes the terms of his suspended sentence.
“I’m most definitely appreciative of everything, really just worked out,” Hill said, when asked about the victim’s consultation in his plea. “I made it to the NFL … well, I (haven’t) made it yet, I’m trying to make it to the NFL. So everything worked out how it was supposed to.”
Reid was asked if the club, which spoke to the district attorney about the case, would have been comfortable drafting Hill if that were that not the case. Reid repeated his belief that general manager John Dorsey and his scouting staff did their homework before the selection. Reid added the Chiefs’ vetting process has led to them saying “no” on some prospects before.
“That’s one reason we brought him up here — normally you want to make that part of the homework, part of the equation there,” Reid said. “We brought him up here, and had a chance to meet him, and have him mingle around. Our players were here at that time, so that was a positive thing.”
The Chiefs’ rookie transition program will be June 22-24, along with the rest of the AFC teams. Reid didn’t provide any details on the Chiefs’ plan for the symposium, but the league requires domestic violence education to be a part of it.
“The league has a plan for it,” Reid said.
Hill does not have much room for error. In addition to the terms of his deferred sentence, another domestic violence incident could lead the NFL to consider Hill a repeat offender, which means potential banishment from the league.
“I try not to think about all that,” Hill said. “The only thing I’m thinking of is doing my counseling, and playing football. That’s it. I’m just trying to be a better man and help this team. I try not to worry about all the social media talk. I deleted all of that.”
When Hill arrived on Friday, he spoke to chairman Clark Hunt, Reid and several teammates.
“The guys here welcomed me in like a brother, just like any other team,” Hill said. “It’s all love, everywhere you go. (They’re) making me feel comfortable, and that’s all I can really ask for.”
Hill said Reid told him that if he works hard, everything will be all right, while Hunt shook his hand and told him good luck.
“I’m just real thankful for those guys for believing in me,” Hill said. “That’s it.”