Tyreek Hill on explaining himself during NFL draft process
A few hundred yards from the parking lot where domestic violence culminated with Jovan Belcher killing himself after murdering Kasandra Perkins on Dec. 1, 2012, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid on Saturday tried to rationalize the startling decision to select Tyreek Hill in the NFL Draft.
Each asked for “trust” in the matter of Hill, who last year pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation of his pregnant girlfriend in 2014.
Trust us … because of our track record and because Hill apologized.
Trust us … because he apparently so far has met conditions of his three years’ probation (through Aug. 15, 2018) and evidently passed whatever vetting process the Chiefs use but won’t even vaguely disclose.
But there is a tin-eared disconnect here in a decision that should have been vetoed by CEO Clark Hunt regardless of Dorsey and Reid’s honorable reputations and whatever the future holds for Hill.
Because no NFL team should stand against domestic violence more than the Chiefs.
“I heard the story: It’s disheartening to see another case of money over morals,” Becky Gonzalez, the mother of Perkins and grandmother to orphaned baby Zoey, said via text message. “They (the NFL) do whatever damage control is necessary at the time to appease (the) public but never take a stance.
“I hope they don’t end up regretting their decision.”
A decision no one has adequately explained.
“What does ‘trust us’ mean?” said Joan Schultz, executive director of The Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence.
Let’s take the Chiefs at their word that they turned over every stone they knew to and wouldn’t knowingly put anybody in the community in harm’s way.
Even that was a naive walk in the dark, as Schultz and other domestic violence experts note.
“Unfortunately, domestic violence and that relationship is much more complex than being able to ‘vet’ somebody,” said Scott Mason, director of marketing at the Rose Brooks Center domestic violence shelter. “Violence thrives in silence, and the way that we talk about it is not something necessarily that you can vet through.”
In a jarring extension of thought found to be supported by studies, Mason immediately added, “The facts are that strangulation, which happened (in this case), is a precursor to homicide.
“So we know that based on statistics and studies that if somebody has strangled their partner, the likelihood of that partner being killed in the future has just increased substantially.
“So those are the things that we’re concerned about when we talk about the nature and dynamics of domestic violence.”
(Attempts were unsuccessful to reach representatives of Hope House, where Reid’s wife, Tammy, has appeared as part of a cause she has been dedicated to at least since their time in Philadelphia).
Another misperception lingers as Hill is assigned to anger management and a yearlong batterer’s program of unknown certification.
“This wasn’t ‘a mistake,’ ” Schultz said. “This is a character flaw you have to work hard to overcome. You have to really look at a batterer: ‘What happened to you? What in the river of cruelty happened to you?’
“And that batterer really has to get inside of himself and say, ‘What am I dealing with here?’ That doesn’t happen in anger management. That happens in a good batterers’ intervention program and counseling.”
All of which leads to another delicate and complicated area: Should Hill at 22 be condemned to no more chances?
If football is his greatest hope to be a productive citizen, how is the greater good served to keep him from that?
And might the victim’s child (and his) benefit from the financial windfall he could experience in the NFL?
There obviously is no one answer, but it’s also all worth thinking about, no matter how you perceive his actions in the matter that immediately got him kicked off the Oklahoma State football team and left him transferring to West Alabama.
“I don’t know how many domestic violence centers would agree with me, but I think there is a line somewhere you have to say, ‘OK, time served,’ ” Schultz said. “I don’t think it’s now.”
What clearly is now, though, is this: signs that many are disturbed by the Chiefs’ aloofness to this.
“There definitely seems to be a new outrage (over) what the Chiefs’ responsibility is to this community,” Mason said, alluding to recent NFL history and the murder of Perkins.
You can see it on the Rose Brooks Twitter feed, which on Monday included a post that read, “We are reminded that to millions of women & their children #domestic violence is a problem and reality #ChiefsDraft.”
You can hear it in the work of our friends Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison at 610 Sports Radio. In response to the pick of Hill, they launched a fundraiser for Rose Brooks that had earned nearly $10,000 as of Tuesday evening.
And regrettable as the reason is, the publicity makes for an awareness and education and rallying point for all shelters, Mason said.
“It reminds an even bigger community of victims who have either already come forward or are silent that they are not alone,” he said.
Hearing of the backlash seemed to hearten Gonzalez.
“I’m surprised people are upset, honestly,” she wrote. “So many die-hard sports fans don’t seem to care.”
But they seem to care for this, said Schultz, who read blogs to gauge the mood and enjoyed a pleasant surprise.
“ ‘Not in our town’ — that’s what I’m seeing,” she said, adding that she thinks the 2014 Ray Rice domestic-violence episode caught on video has had a lasting impact. “It changed the nation’s conversation about domestic violence. Because it was a visual, and we could not turn away from it, we could not argue it away.
“So … people who had never joined the conversation joined the conversation.”
Except those who inexplicably haven’t been listening.
“And now,” Schultz said, “the Chiefs do this.”