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  • Brian L. Barefield

WHERE THERE IS SMOKE: TYREEK HILL



An older gentleman once uttered a phrase to me when I was younger that has stuck throughout my adulthood.


“Where there is smoke. There is a fire,” he said as he took another hit off of his cigarette.


People who know me can tell you that I normally stray away from getting too personal when I am writing a sports article. I don’t mind talking about my funny experiences that have happened to me in life because I want the world to laugh with me as well. Nor do I shy away from expressing some of the things I have went through that may help someone to avoid the same mistake I made later on in life.


But rarely do I talk about things that take me back to a dark time or place in my life when I am writing a sports piece. Readers want to hear about wins and losses, stats, and if the Cowboys have a legitimate chance of winning the Super Bowl. Ok. I will admit that the last statement was just for me.


I digress.


When I was around 12 years old, my brothers and I witnessed something no kids should ever have to see and that was my mom being physically abused by a man. To spare the feelings of some people who knows this man personally I won’t say his name. My mom had been in the midst of trying to break-up with him for a couple of weeks and she used a method that all adults should when trying to leave a situation.


She tried talking to him and express how unhappy she was in the relationship and wanted to move on, but every time she did he would get angry and start hollering, and cussing which normally caused her to just walk away (Smoke) until one early morning I heard two distinct noises I will never forget. One was shouting, and the other was my mom screaming and hitting the floor (Fire).



On Friday the NFL decided not to discipline Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. Hill had been under investigation for an alleged incident in his home that resulted in a broken arm of his three-year old son. Earlier this year prosecutors in Johnson County, Kansas decided not to press charges against Hill or his fiancée Crystal Espinal for the incident due to insufficient evidence.


“All court proceedings are confidential and has not been shared with us, and the court has sealed all law enforcement records,” said the NFL league office in a written statement.


Side Note: Didn’t the commissioner suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot in 2017 even though they had evidence of the young lady lying on him and the only person that interviewed the woman concluded that she was not being truthful? Wasn’t there evidence of an extortion plan to be carried out by the alleged victim? Also, doesn’t the league’s Personal Code of Conduct say that you can still be suspended even if you haven’t been criminally charged or convicted? My apologies, but doesn’t this Hill situation sound like Ray Rice all over again?


Let me pause a second for clarity and gather my thoughts because while writing this it took me back to what transpired the day my mom was attacked. When the police showed up they took the guy outside while my mom stayed in the house. They determined on the spot that they didn’t have enough evidence to take him to jail because no one witnessed the assault and there was no physical evidence to prove that he had hit her. Even with my statement and my brother’s swollen ankle from jumping out of a second story window to go get help, they said it was inconclusive.


While I do understand the whole notion of being innocent until proven guilty and in this case, Mr. Hill was not charged for a crime. It leaves me with a question that has been playing over and over in my head.


“What’s next?”



During the investigation, audio was leaked of Hill and Espinal having a heated conversation about the incident involving the child in question.


“He is terrified of you,” Espinal said as she referred to their son.

"You need to be terrified of me too — dumb bitch," Hill said.


That last sentence is the issue I have with this whole situation. I am not here to play judge or jury in this case. Just like the NFL I don’t have access to all of the evidence when it comes to determining who broke the young man’s arm. What I do have is a strong recollection of hearing words like that weeks before the attack on my mom happened.


The NFL could have sent a message to the rest of the league by suspending Hill at least four games based off of the verbal threat alone. Combine that with his past history where he pleaded guilty to punching and kicking Espinal back in 2014 and you have an open and shut case. Yet it now leads one to wonder if the league and Senior Vice President/Special Counsel for Investigations, Lisa Friel actually want to get it right.



Hill has shown a pattern of anger management issues that has involved his fiancée and now his son (allegedly). Is the league waiting on a third issue before they finally do something? What if that last issue causes a young lady or child to be hospitalized for a long period of time? Would the NFL say they didn’t recognize the smoke that was coming from the fire?


My mom and I talked about the abuse she suffered at the hands of that man when I was older because I still harbored anger towards him. She had forgiven him a long time ago, but I had not. Even though I was a grown man, I still remembered that day as if it was the day before. Mr. Hill, I have no clue what transpired on the day in questioning, but I am sure your son will never forget it.

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