by Alex Poletti
Photo by Sports Illustrated
It was a big payday for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who received a $1 million bonus by fulfilling the terms of the “Don’t choke your girlfriend” clause of the three-year, $54 million contract he signed at the beginning of the season.
“We thought the best way to approach a deal with Tyreek was with an incentive-based contract,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt reflects. “We had the standard 1,000-yard bonus, the 100-catch bonus, et cetera, but it was important to add something to really get him excited about the idea of not assaulting his girlfriend. I’m glad it all worked out in the end.”
Though he faced an NFL investigation at the beginning of the season for claims of child abuse over an incident that occured last January, no new allegations have been brought against the Pro Bowler. This is good news for the Chiefs, who hope that Hill’s history of violence is behind him.
“His behavior has really improved,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach says. “It’s one of those investments that you count on when you sign a player with some sort of history. When a player has a lengthy injury history, giving a bonus for games played is a reasonable move. I think treating domestic abuse in the same manner is pretty sound logic.”
While he was still in college, Hill pled guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation. The victim was his girlfriend Crystal Espinal, who was pregnant with their son at the time. The troublesome personal problems were one reason that teams were so hesitant to draft the speedy return specialist, leaving him available for the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.
“When we were structuring the contract, we made sure to use the word ‘choke,’” Veach explains. “We still wanted to give him a little bit of leeway—you never want to force a player to do anything, they need to be eased into it. By being so specific, we gave Tyreek the wiggle room he needed to mature, but still make the mistakes that we can reasonably expect of any violent, mean-spirited and generally irredeemable member of our Chiefs family.”
While the circumstances surrounding Hill are not as great as they possibly could be, Veach and Hunt admit that it could be much worse.
“We got off pretty lucky,” Hunt says. “We could’ve had a Myles Garrett situation, where he was suspended indefinitely for swinging his helmet at another player without causing injury. Instead, we got off with Tyreek inflicting harm upon his girlfriend and son and continually jeopardizing their safety without any repercussions from the league. I guess you just have to count your blessings.”