The NFL has never really gotten a good handle on the discipline side of the personal conduct policy. Whether it be the Ray Rice case, their handling of Kicker Josh Brown's domestic violence allegation, or close to home with the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to prove inconsistent when it comes to off the field issues for its players. Tyreek Hill is the latest example.
Nate Taylor of The Athletic is reporting that the Kansas City Chiefs believe Tyreek Hill will get no more than a four-game suspension. Tyreek Hill is under investigation stemming from an incident that left his child with a broken arm. Though the district attorney's office stated that they would not file charges against Hill, audio was released between Hill and his fiancé that was pretty disturbing.
Now, there is a report that the investigators determined that the cause of injury was accidental, and that is certainly plausible. Accidents happen all the time. However, as a medical professional of more than 14 years, I've learned that in cases of domestic violence as well as child abuse, it's very difficult to determine what's assault and what's an accident. This is why domestic violence and child abuse is so difficult to prove because the evidence can point in opposite directions. Without eyewitness testimony, and three-year-olds aren't reliable sources of information (I know, I have a three-year-old), it's easy to see why the criminal justice system declined to pursue the matter further.
The report above indicates that neither Hill or his fiance currently has custody of their child. Investigators found welts on their son's body and the two admitted that they've spanked and used a belt to discipline their son, though investigators can't determine who is responsible for the welts.
From the above report:
"The investigation into Hill and Espinal began weeks after the broken bone was first treated, when Espinal, according to sources, asked a third party to call authorities and tell them that Hill was responsible for the boy’s injury. Espinal has admitted she was trying to shame Hill because in her mind, he had become too controlling and abusive again in their long and stormy relationship.
Hill and Espinal are currently separated and neither has custody of the boy at this time.
The investigation into the couple’s parenting accelerated when Overland Park police checked on the boy in March and found bruises and welts on his body. Both Hill and Espinal have admitted to investigators that they spanked the 3 year old with their hands and a belt, but prosecutors can’t determine for sure which parent, or if both, went too far.
In April Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe held a press conference to announce criminal charges wouldn’t be brought against Hill or Espinal but stated he believed a crime was committed against the boy and it was believed the crime was about the broken arm. It was not. Howe’s team has halted working on the case as they still can’t bring charges for bruising and harming the boy."
Kevin Keitzman - WHB Sports Radio 810
Tyreek Hill has a history of violence against his then-girlfriend when he punched her in the stomach while she was pregnant then choked her. In that instance, Hill pled guilty. Now there’s the audio that alludes to Hill breaking his son’s arm. In that same audio, Hill is overheard threatening his fiancé as well. And the NFL only wants to suspend him for four games?
If you'll recall from 2014, Adrian Peterson was suspended for the entirety of that season without pay after pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault in relation to the excessive discipline of his then four-year-old child.
As we've learned from the way the NFL works, they don't need the justice system to prove someone is guilty to take action against one of its players. While Hill's fiance has gone back on her story, which is a common thing for victims of abuse to do, the NFL doesn't need proof to come to a decision on Tyreek Hill. We've seen that the allegation is proof enough. Hill's history, the murkiness of the allegation, and the audio all paint a troubling picture.
Ezekiel Elliott received a six-game suspension from the NFL for allegations of assault during his college days. The NFL's lead investigator at the time recommended no suspension for Elliott, but the league suspended him six games anyway. Text messages from Elliott’s accuser indicated that she may have fabricated the accusation against Elliott and the league gave him a six-game suspension anyway.
As we've also seen, you can't rely on the NFL to be consistent when it comes to matters of discipline.
The NFL continues to be a very poor and inconsistent disciplinarian when it comes to player conduct. The national narrative on marijuana as an alternative therapy for pain and mental wellness is changing and yet, the league continues to keep Randy Gregory, Josh Gordon, and Martavis Bryant in the drug treatment program and indefinitely suspended. Obviously, those suspensions could still be lifted, but those players have lost years of their career for an offense that doesn’t even compare to what Hill is accused of, with audio to support the notion.
If you recall, Tom Brady got four games for his alleged role in the “deflate-gate” saga. In the eyes of the NFL, “deflate-gate” and Tyreek Hill’s alleged offenses are of similar magnitude.
It’s time for the NFL to get a better handle on the way they go about disciplining players, or maybe don’t discipline them at all. This will be one of the talking points when the league and the player’s union come together for the next round of collective bargaining. There needs to be a better way forward because having one guy sitting at the top making all the decisions isn’t working.
Roger Goodell and the NFL, to what should be the surprise of no one, are failing again to have a clue when it comes to player discipline. Assault and abuse are very difficult to prove. It's why you’ll see a suspension for Hill despite no action from the criminal justice system.
If the NFL truly believes that Hill didn't do anything wrong, then he doesn't deserve a suspension. However, if they believe he's responsible for something, they can't give him anything less than six games.
This piece was edited to reflect further information that was missing from the original story and to provide additional context for the author's perspective.
Tony Pollard, Supporting Cast or a Co-lead with Ezekiel Elliott?
Since the Dallas Cowboys drafted Running Back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft he's been the star of the show. Any of their other offensive weapons have been nothing more than supporting cast the past three years, but rookie RB/WR Tony Pollard could prove to be more than just supporting cast and become more of a co-lead in Zeke's show.
Suggesting Tony Pollard has a chance to be more than just supporting cast with Ezekiel Elliott is a lot to put on a rookies shoulders, but that's the kind of hype he's receiving already. He hasn't even put on the pads yet with the Dallas Cowboys, but he's already receiving Alvin Kamara type comparisons due to the versatility he's expected to bring with him to the NFL.
Living up to those Alvin Kamara comparisons might be even more difficult than becoming anything more than just an extra behind Zeke anytime soon, but it's doable. After all, Kamara immediately stepped in as a rookie and became a costar with Mark Ingram in New Orleans. It's certainly feasible to think Pollard can do the same.
There's of course only one problem with this way of thinking. Mark Ingram is no Ezekiel Elliott. And, no RB on the depth chart behind Zeke the last three years has been good enough to cut into #21's heavy workload. Is the hype surrounding Tony Pollard justified? Is he talented enough to cut into Zeke's playing time?
Those are some really big questions we don't have an answer to as of yet. Training camp could help determine the type of role Tony Pollard will have with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and beyond, but even that can be thrown out the window once games start to matter in the regular season.
Personally, I think Tony Pollard will be part of a supporting cast behind Ezekiel Elliott this year. I just don't think he's ready to step in and costar with Zeke just yet. I think he will be more of a comedic relief that will be used from time to time to keep things interesting. That's not necessarily a bad thing though considering his versatility to contribute in the running or passing game.
In time though, Pollard could prove worthy of an increase in playing time and become more of a co-lead with No. 21. It may very well be in his rookie season, but he's really going to have to prove himself and that will need to start this week when the Dallas Cowboys kick off their training camp in Oxnard, California.
What do you think? Is Tony Pollard supporting cast or a co-lead with Zeke?
Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable
Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.
The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.
Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).
Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.
Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.
The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.
CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season
For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.
In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.
After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.
Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.
"As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."
Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.
Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.
"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."
The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.
That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.
Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.
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