Ravens’ running back Ray Rice beat his fiancé in an elevator until she was unconscious: two game suspension. Giants’ kicker Josh Brown beat his wife almost two dozen times: one game suspension. Cowboy’s defensive end Greg Hardy attacked his girlfriend: four game suspension after the appeal.
Hearing about domestic violence in the NFL is no shocker nowadays. Every day it seems a new player is given a far too fair suspension for abuse, but it really stirred me when the Chiefs drafted an abuser, Tyreek Hill. As he has grown into the backbone of the Chiefs offense, it has become more and more complicated to loath him.
It is incomprehensible why the Chiefs would ever draft a domestic abuser. Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and then himself in a murder-suicide that rocked the entire city. After such a traumatic domestic incident, it’s incredibly disrespectful to the families of the deceased and to the city to put another abuser on the roster.
I couldn’t understand why they would consider Hill, but then I saw what the Chiefs staff saw: his talent. Yes, he is so fast he could get a speeding ticket in a school zone. Yes, he is an unbelievable athlete. No, he shouldn’t be apart of the organization. Watching Tyreek turn the Chiefs into a winning team every Sunday made me feel a little more conflicted about him being on the team. As a fan who bleeds red and gold, I have always wanted to see the Chiefs have a real chance in the playoffs, but I always return to the same reasoning. Talent or no talent, I can’t be won over with a game winning touchdown.
Being good, no matter how good, isn’t an excuse for domestic abuse. He shouldn’t be on the team. Period. While it will inevitably be welcomed that he is on the team because of the NFL’s loose policies on abuse, it is crucial that fans address what he did and refuse to idolize him. Players are too often seen as heroes, and the reality is that they can be from who we want them to be.
It is impossible to imagine cheering on a player who choked his pregnant girlfriend, hit her across her face and punched her in the stomach, but that is what is happening with the NFL’s acknowledgment. As a massive Chiefs fan, I want to go to a Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade at some point in my high school career. I don’t want to be rooting for someone who found it ok to put his hands around the neck of the mother of his child.
So now I have found myself trapped. I want to do the morally correct thing and avoid cheering for Hill. It seems so black and white at first glance – don’t cheer for the monster who beat up his girlfriend. However, it somehow sadly becomes a gray area when I want the Chiefs to win, but I don’t know how to feel or what to do when Hill scores the game-winning touchdown. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my love for the Chiefs because of one player.
It is hypocritical of me to applaud for Hill on the field and the second he steps off the field condemn him for everything he has done. At the same time, it is unnecessary and emotionally draining to mention abuse every time Hill touches the ball. Fans should not forgive and forget, but we shouldn’t feel bad about cheering on the Chiefs and, by association, Hill.
I know the thought of clapping for Hill sounds appalling, but there is nothing to be done to change the fact that he is on the team. Fans protested when the Chiefs first made their horrendous draft pick. A sports talk radio show host made a GoFundMe page for victims of domestic abuse after the news broke in protest. Many Chiefs fans flooded the team’s Twitter with negative comments, but nothing changed the fact that he was on the team.
It’s easy to be mad at the Chiefs for drafting him, but the real problem lies with the NFL. The NFL has had longer game suspensions for deflating balls than for domestic assault. Fans continue to be outraged about how many abusers receive practically no punishment and are allowed in the league.
Merely allowing Hill to play shows disregard for victims of assault. Even with the backlash from Hill being drafted, the NFL is continuing to advocate for abusers. This spring Joe Mixon, a running back from Oklahoma, is entering the draft even though there is video evidence of him punching a woman in the face. The NFL should clean house and block abusers from entering the draft. It is time for the cycle of abusers in the league to end.