Dan Wolken, USA TODAY
Published 9:14 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2020 | Updated 9:19 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2020
SportsPulse: The matchup is set, the line is close, the big game can go either way. USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes has his best bet yet for the biggest game of the year.
MIAMI – The questions to Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill were mostly lighthearted, as one would typically expect at the NFL’s Super Bowl Opening Night. Lots of talk about who might beat him in a foot race (nobody), the chicken sandwich wars (for the record, Hill is Team Popeyes all the way), what his cereal would taste like (must have marshmallows) and even an exchange with a Spanish-language reporter dressed up like a boat captain who gave him one of those fishing bobber games for little kids.
“This is my favorite game!” Hill said. “I play it all the time with my son.”
That was the moment things turned awkward, if for no other reason than the question of whether Hill abused his 3-year old son loomed large over the Chiefs’ offseason and Hill’s career. In April, about a month after a report that Hill was being investigated over how his son broke his arm, audio surfaced of an argument with his fiancée Crystal Espinal in which he used threatening language and she accused him of child abuse.
Though Hill has a documented history of domestic violence allegations with the same woman when he was at Oklahoma State, the local authorities didn’t prosecute him, the NFL declined to discipline him after a four-month investigation and the Chiefs welcomed him back to the team with no suspension. Hill denied crossing the line physically and said he was playing a boxing game with his son when the incident occurred, but the audio recording did not paint a flattering picture of how he interacts with the people in his life.
Though Hill made himself look even worse in his first news conference after being reinstated last July by issuing a seemingly hostile answer in response to the reporter who broke the story, he took a more conciliatory tone Monday.
“My parents raised me to always believe in God and have faith in whatever you’re going through because there are people who are having worse days than you, and your good days are always going to outweigh your bad days,” Hill said. “I had a rough patch or whatever but I was able to bounce through because of my faith and because of the people I had around me and my supporting cast. And I was able to still see my son, you know, and he knows what’s going on.
“Having my son around me during those moments was the real thing I needed, like, hey buddy, I’m always going to be there, I’m always going to be your father. I love you. And he still tells me to this day, ‘Daddy, you’re my best friend no matter what.’”
Despite the public outcry for him to face some type of discipline from the NFL, Hill said he never doubted that he would be able to play this season. His presence and speed have been crucial in Kansas City’s run to the Super Bowl, as he led a deep group of wideouts with 58 catches and 860 yards. He also had two touchdown receptions in the AFC championship game win over the Tennessee Titans.
Asked what obligations he needed to meet for the Chiefs to feel comfortable in keeping him with the franchise, he cited his community service work in the Kansas City area.
“I just feel like I’m truly blessed,” Hill said. “Each and every day I get up I get a chance to play the game that I love, be around people who are loving and then I get a chance to be around my kids and be in their life. I feel like I’m truly blessed. If God gives you breath in your lungs, you’re blessed right there because that’s just another opportunity for you to be a better you than yesterday so I’m truly blessed. I’m still working on myself each and every day trying to be a better man, better father.”