The NFL Is Consistently Inconsistent With Discipline

Why did Reed get six games and Hill none.

Jim Rome
July 23, 2019 - 11:59 am
Jarran Reed

USA Today


On Friday, the NFL announced that Tyreek Hill would not be suspended following an investigation that started after law enforcement authorities went to his house twice in March to investigate child abuse and neglect. The Johnson County District Attorney said that charges would not be filed against Hill or his fiancée, not because they didn’t believe a crime had occurred, but because they could not establish who committed the crime.

Then there was the release of audio reportedly between Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal, audio that included a threat from Hill to Espinal.

Then, yesterday, the league announced that Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed would be suspended six games for an incident in 2017. If you didn’t know that Reed was being investigated for an incident in 2017, you’re not alone.

And in that case, Reed was never arrested or charged.

So to quickly recap – Tyreek Hill is not punished by the league in an incident that left a three year old with a broken arm and where there is audio of him making a threat to a woman he has already pled guilty to assaulting. Jarran Reed is suspended six games for an incident where he was not arrested and was not charged.

So what was the incident from 2017 that led to Reed’s suspension in 2019?

According to the Seattle Times, on April 27, 2017, police were called to a house in Bellevue at 12:49am for a noise complaint due a party. The people at the residence said they would keep the noise down.

Police were then called back at 3:06am. According to the second report, Reed allegedly assaulted a woman during an argument. He “grabbed (her) by the throat and pulled her into the connected bedroom.”  

He then “grabbed (her) by the right wrist and started dragging her across the bedroom floor to the staircase (going downstairs to the main floor).” Reed allegedly dragged her down “a couple of stairs,” before she managed to break away run to a bathroom where she locked herself in and called 911.

At that point, Reed allegedly broke down the door before an unidentified friend got ahold of him and told him to leave. When police arrived, they did see that the bathroom door had been broken and Reed was nowhere to be found.

Based on that police report, that sounds like a horrible situation.

Based on that police report, it sounds horrible, but again, for reasons that according to the Seattle Times were redacted, charges weren’t filed.

But that’s not the issue here. And let me say one thing, there is something really awkward about people in sports media declaring how many games a particular violent action against another human being deserves. There is no metric, no rule of thumb that is going to sound good. It’s always going to sound stupid and callous.

When you’re talking about a child suffering a broken arm or threats made to a woman or a woman being grabbed by the throat and dragged, to suddenly translate that into a certain number of football games missed sounds absurd.

That said, if you want to tell me that Jarran Reed deserves a strict punishment for an incident where he dragged a woman by the throat, I’m not going to disagree.

But if you want to tell me that Tyreek Hill gets nothing for an incident where a child suffered a broken arm and he sure appeared to make threats to the mother of that child, I’m going to need an explanation.

And that’s the problem. There is no explanation. Maybe Hill didn’t receive punishment because the fiancée did not cooperate with the league’s investigation or maybe because law enforcement authorities did not provide information, but there’s still the audio of the threat.

It’s a threat that Hill’s own attorney said was “unacceptable” and “inexcusable” in a letter to the league. And he still gets nothing?

Maybe there is a scenario in which what the NFL is doing with discipline in these two cases makes sense, but they don’t provide that explanation.

And when they don’t, it makes the player discipline policy seem arbitrary. And the entire point of having a policy is that it’s not arbitrary.

People should not be surprised when there is no punishment or when there is a punishment. This shouldn’t feel like flipping a coin or a guessing game, but it does. Because it’s not consistent.

Not only is it not consistent, the league appears to be incredibly inconsistent. It does arbitrary and random.

And that is not the point of a player discipline policy. By the very definition, the point of having a policy is so that it isn’t arbitrary.

This is a league that has been tripping and falling all over itself when it comes to player conduct going back to Ray Rice’s initial joke of a punishment. And that was five years ago.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But they’ve had all this time to get it right. All this time to get it to a situation where people can understand it. And they haven’t.

That’s why either the league needs to outsource the discipline, so that it’s not their issue, or just flat out stop doing it. Because right now, it’s a mess. There’s no consistency whatsoever. Why did Reed get six games and hill none. Why did Ezekiel Elliott get six games and Hill none. Any time the league wants to get around to explaining it would be great, because right now, no one anywhere can make any sense of their so-called policy. 

And that’s because it doesn’t make sense. And there is no consistency.