Vahe Gregorian

Tyreek Hill’s future remains unclear as he participates in Chiefs’ offseason program

Chiefs coach Andy Reid addresses Tyreek Hill’s situation

Chiefs coach Andy Reid addressed the Tyreek Hill situation during a news conference Monday, April 15, 2019, at the Chiefs' training facility in Kansas City.
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Chiefs coach Andy Reid addressed the Tyreek Hill situation during a news conference Monday, April 15, 2019, at the Chiefs' training facility in Kansas City.

Fact: The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office told The Star on Monday afternoon that its investigation involving Chiefs star receiver Tyreek Hill remains ongoing — weeks after Overland Park police and the Johnson County DA’s office said they were probing alleged incidents of battery and child abuse or neglect involving Hill at his home.

Fact: The Kansas Department for Children and Families last month also confirmed to The Star it had received a report and was investigating.

Fact: Hill was present and participating Monday in the opening phase of the Chiefs’ offseason workout program at their training complex.

So, reconciling those realities, and trying to gauge what they suggest about Hill’s future, is an intricate, perhaps even moot, endeavor.

Especially because no charges have been filed and nothing can be known at least until the investigations are concluded.

Especially since the essence of the work is a matter of legal confidentiality and because the only public filter right now is through the resolutely guarded stance of coach Andy Reid.

Frustrating as it might be for fans to still have no real notion of where this is going, much as we might all wish for clarity one way or another, Reid on Monday did the only thing he really could or should do by avoiding saying anything definitive.

How could he, after all, with the investigation ongoing and the NFL having jurisdiction over any potential discipline of Hill outside the legal system?

We all want resolution, and we all want more on it ASAP.

But even those two notions aren’t necessarily in harmony with each other.

So, Hill is here, the investigations are ongoing, and Reid basically accounted for any outcome going forward, reflecting both the limbo of the situation and his own adroitness at handling such sticky things.

When Reid has his game face on for any given topic, even far less complicated and controversial ones, it’s almost impossible to get him to elaborate.

When it’s something nuclear like this, when he fundamentally has his hands tied by the process, anyway, and perhaps even has been advised by attorneys to stay mum, virtually no question is going to crack the code with him.

Certainly none of the burst of eight or nine queries on Monday evoked any meaningful insight, with Reid deftly parrying away each.

So parse this all as you will:

Reid mentioned Hill in his opening overview, first saying that Hill was there and then that he had nothing further to say beyond an earlier statement the Chiefs had made: “The club is aware of the investigation involving Tyreek Hill,” the team said in a statement to The Star last month. “We’re in the process of gathering information and have been in contact with the league and local authorities. We’ll have no further comment at this time.”

Noting there’s been no news since, Reid said, “I’m going to leave it at that” (though he then allowed as how he’d had a chance to say hello to Hill, an apparently new development since Reid said last month at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix said that he hadn’t spoken with Hill since this story broke, on advice of counsel.)

Then Reid proceeded to … leave it at that.

Asked to clarify if Hill’s presence reflected anything beyond a default position that he would be with the team until there was a proven reason he shouldn’t be, Reid said, “There’s no further information from what we put out there on the statement. Yes, he’s here, working.”

Asked if this means Hill can be expected to be here going forward, Reid said, “Off of what we know, he’s here.”

Is uncertainty about his status affecting the team’s offseason preparation for next season? “No, no, we’re full-steam ahead.”

Can we expect a comment on it all when the investigations are concluded? “We’ll see … If there’s anything to comment on, we always put it out there for you, so we’re not hiding it.”

Asked if he’d been advised by legal counsel not to ask Hill about anything related to the matter at hand, he said, “There’s nothing different off the statement. And then, listen, I’m not (here) to judge on that. That’s what’s taking place now (the investigations), and so I’m here to coach, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Asked if he’d been advised not to delve into the matter, Reid said, “There’s nothing to delve into, there’s no information … We’ll just let it play out.”

Reid then swatted away a question about whether he’s spoken with police, saying, “I’m kind of where I’m at here on this.”

Finally, he downplayed a question of whether Hill’s presence should be viewed as a positive sign: “I don’t want to make a judgment on anything other than he’s here, he’s working and we don’t have anything else (in the way of new information.)”

For his part, Hill earlier this month posted a video to his YouTube channel of himself preparing for the 2019 season and saying, “Two times a day, baby. Cheetah coming back, man. Stronger, baby. Fastest in the game.”

That could prove true for Hill, who has been fortunate to get a second chance with the Chiefs after he pleaded guilty to a 2014 assault of his then-pregnant girlfriend Crystal Espinal.

Many of us had come to see his story as one of second chances and atonement until fresh reminders of his past and new questions arose with the investigations concerning an alleged battery at the Overland Park home Hill shares with Espinal, now his fiancée, and their 3-year-old son.

But Hill’s mere presence on Monday doesn’t make anything more clear, which is perhaps the only thing you can take from what Reid said and didn’t say.

Stitch together some of his words, actually, and Reid reaffirmed the only facts we all have to cling to: “Off of what we know, he’s here … We’ll just let it play out.”

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Vahe Gregorian has been a sports columnist for The Kansas City Star since 2013 after 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has covered a wide spectrum of sports, including 10 Olympics. Vahe was an English major at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his master’s degree at Mizzou.