Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill addressed the media for the first time Sunday afternoon following a tumultuous offseason that included criminal and league investigations involving his potential involvement in child abuse of his 3-year-old son.
On night one of the NFL Draft, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach announced Hill would not partake in team activities “for the foreseeable future,” but once the league ultimately ruled that Hill did not violate its personal conduct policy (meaning no suspension for the wide receiver), he was clear to return to the club and did so on veteran report day in St. Joseph on Friday.
(Editor’s note: While I’m wrapping the Hill availability in writing here based upon my own viewpoint, this is a case in which I’d especially encourage you watch yourself above or by clicking here in order to draw your own conclusions).
Hill began with an opening statement.
“I just want to start off by saying: To all of the fans, Clark Hunt, (Andy) Reid, (Brett) Veach, my teammates, my family, my teammates being my family, I just want to thank them for the support,” he said. “I am very appreciative to all of those guys for being in my life. Especially my teammates — they stayed on me during the whole offseason. We would work out. They would stay steady showing me love, steady during everything. I am very appreciative of everybody in my life right now. I can’t wait for my new journey. I’m excited. I’m working every day to be a better father, a better person, a better citizen, a better teammate and a better son too, to my parents. I am evolving every day.
“Something that stood out to me as I was going through this long process — my mom told me, ‘People don’t need to change, they need to grow.’ Think of a tree. A tree changes and a tree grows. Every day my mom would tell me, ‘Tyreek, you need to grow. You need to add layers to yourself.’ If a tree grows, it doesn’t go back. I want to grow. I don’t want to change, I’m trying to grow each and every day of my life. That’s all I want to say. But, to answer your question, it feels good. The love feels good. To come back out here and to get a chance, it’s crazy. I’m back. The Cheetah is back.”
Hill’s unofficial suspension from the club began after KCTV5 released select audio clips of a recorded conversation between Hill and his child’s mother, Crystal Espinal, that took place in the Dubai Airport (610 Sports Radio later released an 11-minute, uninterrupted version of the audio).
Hill is heard referring to Espinal as a “b—” on the audio tape, something he now says he regrets.
“I’m just here to man up to what I did on audio, my bad language,” he said. “I am going to man up to that. I don’t want anybody talking to my little sister, my daughter that I have now or my mom like that. That is very disrespectful. My mom got into me. She thumped me on the ear like, ‘C’mon, grow up out of that.’ Never again. Like I said, I am growing as a human being, as a person. Never again.”
Hill and Espinal are also heard discussing whether or not Hill punches their son in the chest for discipline purposes.
“I really can’t get into that,” Hill said when asked about that specific portion of the audio. “But punching my son in the chest, that would probably refer to me teaching my son how to box. We do have boxing gloves at our house. Our son is like Ironman. He loves Ironman, Aquaman. He’s like, ‘Daddy, c’mon, c’mon, c`mon,’ all of the time. That’s what it is. Sometimes, things get thrown out of context when feelings get involved and emotions. I’m not going to get into all of that right now.”
On Friday, Hunt told media members that he met with Hill earlier in the week but opted to hold back details of the talk. Hunt described it as a “very frank conversation.”
Hill also wanted to keep the chat between himself and the owner.
“I really can’t get into that, but all I am going to say is that I just have to work on my life skills,” he said. “That’s it.”
During his first media availability of the season on Tuesday, Reid explained that after not speaking with Hill all offseason, he’d been spending quite a bit of time with the wide receiver lately.
“He’s remorseful that he’s had to go — put all of us through what we went through and he had to go through,” Reid said. “I feel... that’s a sensitive situation and he wants to get back and he wants to do what he needs to do to be a father and to be a player here. He’s very conscious of that.”
“Like [Reid] said, we didn’t talk during the whole offseason,” Hill added. “I really didn’t talk to anybody but my teammates. It’s been great. I know that he would still support me in the background. He would still show me love, I know that because that is just that family connection that we have. I really don’t call them my teammates or my coaches, I call them my family because that’s who they are. They brought me in as a family. They trusted me, in this organization, and that’s what I’m so appreciative of. They gave me a chance at life so I could change my family life, my kids’ life and everybody around me. I came from nothing, so I’m very appreciative.”
Hill referred to that family aspect when asked about what he learned from his ordeal.
“I’ve learned to just appreciate those around me,” he said. “I feel like I take that for granted sometimes. Being a professional athlete, I tend to not stay humble sometimes. I still love my kids and I still love my family, but sometimes I feel like I take all of those things for granted.”
After answering close to 15 questions, Hill had one final statement to make before walking away from the podium.
“(To the fans) Thank you, guys,” he said. “I love you. Cheetah’s back. Thank you for the support. ‘Chiefs Kingdom,’ I love you. Like I said, I’m growing as a person each and every day.
“For the reporters, my story is crazy. There is going to be somebody’s testimony one day. I’m telling y’all. Thank you.”
Observations (via lead film analyst Kent Swanson, who attended practice)
- Patrick Mahomes looks better. I said it. He’s normalized excellent quarterback play in Kansas City, and there have been small improvements from his MVP performance. His feet are cleaner, he’s in command of the offense, he’s seeing it even better than he did and he’s throwing with anticipation. It’s enjoyable to watch.
Mahomes this year vs. last year in camp is noticeably improved, which is scary. Complete command, accurate, throwing with anticipation. Here he is connecting with Byron Pringle. pic.twitter.com/OvGWUeADhR— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) July 28, 2019
- Wide receiver Sammy Watkins built upon his excellent day Saturday with an even better one on Sunday. He made some great adjustments on throws and violently snatched the ball down at the catch point. He’s moving well and showing a complete skill set. Don’t let him get overshadowed by Hill’s hot start at camp.
One of the better catches of the day. Sammy Watkins going up to bring this down. pic.twitter.com/hmYtjzM0kI— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) July 28, 2019
- Speaking of that hot start by Hill, he won in different ways Sunday but had success nonetheless. Here was a well-executed deep in by Mahomes and Hill:
Timing, touch, anticipation from Mahomes on a deep in by Tyreek Hill. Great throw. pic.twitter.com/EjeBFqinb6— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) July 28, 2019
- They found some easy completions for Hill with some different motions to help him leverage corners with his speed. There are going to be some easy yards to be had.
- WR Mecole Hardman flashed a few plays today and showed some positive signs. He did a great job working back to Mahomes in the middle of the field and later the two connected on an out route.
- It’s been a very quiet camp so far for WRs Demarcus Robinson and Gehrig Dieter. I can’t recall a catch from either to this point.
- Running back Darwin Thompson saw a little time with the first team in Damien Williams’ absence. He caught a swing from Mahomes who was throwing the ball under pressure. Alex Okafor popped Thompson even though they weren’t in pads.
- On defense, Steve Spagnuolo was pulling defenders aside to work with them on tacking drills before practice.
- Defensive line coach Brendan Daly brought the energy today. You could hear him coaching from up in the stands. This is a vocal and energetic staff, and it’s carrying over to the field.
- Anyone who had concerns over the cornerback group should feel justified after two practices. It is not good and obviously thin. The group needs help.
- Cornerback D’Montre Wade got first-team reps outside, with Kendall Fuller being relegated to the slot. I have yet to see Fuller get a single rep outside.
- Safety Juan Thornhill showed some of his ball skills again today with a near interception of QB Chad Henne.
- S Jordan Lucas also got his hands on a pass in seven-on-seven before leaving with an injury.
- The defense won all three two-minute drills. The first-team defense stopped Mahomes and company on a fourth-and-2 with pressure from defensive linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones. The third team’s drive ended on an interception by Dorian O’Daniel.
- CB Mark Fields played outside corner today and was competing against big bodies like WR Jamal Custis and TE/WR Jody Fortson. He shut them down, including two great pass breakups on Custis.
- The first offsides call of the week was Rashad Fenton in seven-on-seven. Not great.
Safety Jordan Lucas and running back Damien Williams left practice early due to hamstring issues. Catch Sunday’s full Chiefs injury report here.
Tweets of note
This actually isn’t new. Mahomes had been messing around with behind the back passes throughout last season. Some teammates told me last year that they wouldn’t be surprised if he actually did try it in a game at some point. That’s how comfortable he is throwing it. https://t.co/SoU5gzU3v7— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) July 28, 2019
Mahomes and Kelce absolutely fooled Hitchens and Mathieu here. Mahomes is a literal 7-on-7 cheat code pic.twitter.com/OBVfidZ6Cq— Brandon Zenner (@NPNowZenner) July 28, 2019
Disclaimers first: no pads and shorts = advantage offense for sure | That said, Patrick Mahomes already looks to be more accurate than last year, especially on intermediate passes. Found pass-catchers on the money between multiple defenders several times today.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 28, 2019
Just from the quickness in his cuts. Hardman is going to be an upgrade in his explosiveness and elusiveness versus Conley. #Chiefs— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) July 28, 2019
Rashad Davis is someone I’ll be keeping my eye on. I like his quick twitch in and out of his breaks.— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) July 28, 2019
It’s looking like Spags’ plan, at least to start the year, will be to run Kendall Fuller exclusively as a slot CB. #Chiefs— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 28, 2019
Depth chart note: 2nd team offensive line has been Erving, Allegretti, Murray, Hunter and Murphy. Chiefs wanting Kahlil McKenize to get center reps, he’s working 3rd team there.— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) July 28, 2019
Chris Jones still weighs 295 pounds, he told me. But he sliced his body fat from 19% to 16% in case he’s asked to play all over.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 28, 2019
Quote of the day
Chris Jones on how his figure is built compared to previous seasons: “It’s about the same. It’s always, ‘Get better in some areas.’ Every offseason, you have a goal. This offseason was a goal to get a six-pack. That’s what I worked on — strengthening the core, doing pilates, yoga and things like that.”
The Chiefs will hold their first padded practice of training camp Monday morning beginning at 8:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Their first training camp day off is scheduled for this Thursday.