Chiefs' draft littered with character risks

By Steve Sell
May 02, 2016

I believe in second chances — to a point.

The Kansas City Chiefs, apparently the new NFL home for college delinquents, will be severely testing the art of the “do-over.”

Four of the nine players picked by the Chiefs this past week in the annual NFL talent grab  have pasts that can only be best described as “checkered.” They aren’t the only team that picked players who have run afoul with the law, but when 45 percent fall under the “tainted” category like the Chiefs, it’s a bit alarming.

In the first round, there was a firestorm when Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil — just 15 minutes before the start of the draft — had a video pop up on social media that showed him with a mask on smoking a bong. He fell at least 11 spots to No. 13 to Miami. The weed episode cost him a few million dollars, for sure. 

How many of the 253 players picked can say they’ve never had a run-in with the law?

The NFL is the most violent sport we have and violent men play the game. But sometimes their violence carries over to their everyday lives.

Getting back to the Chiefs, their third-round pick was expelled for a season at Notre Dame for violating the school’s honor code. Their fourth-rounder was suspended four times at Florida for drugs and other violations. The Chiefs’ fifth-round pick was booted from Oklahoma State for allegedly choking his pregnant girl friend. The seventh-round pick has a larceny charge in his past.

Apparently the Chiefs are in the rehabilitation business. For a franchise that once had insisted on drafting players with impeccable off-the-field pedigree, they have done a 180. Last year’s top pick, Marcus Peters, arrived with a lot of off-the-field baggage and turned out to be a model citizen, not to mention Rookie of the Year. They’re hoping for more of the same with the four draftees.

The only pick I have a problem with is Tyreek Hill, who was accused of domestic violence after allegedly choking his pregnant girl friend, so he actually was putting two lives in danger. He wound up pleading guilty to assault and battery by strangulation and sentenced to probation for three years. He also is reportedly taking anger management courses and was sentenced to a program for domestic abusers.

Big 12 fans certainly remember Hill. He once was a speed burner at Oklahoma State who was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. But after his charges came to light, he wound up at West Alabama where he tried to reboot his career and his life and from all accounts he’s been clean since. 

For the Chiefs, he’s probably more of a special teams candidate as he doesn’t have prototype NFL size to play receiver, though he could be in the slot. Given he’s a fifth-rounder, his chances of making the team are no better than 50 percent and I’m sure the Chiefs fans (which should be all of them) who abhor domestic violence are hoping he doesn’t cut it.

I’ve always put a lot of faith in the judgment in GM John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid, not to mention owner Clark Hunt. I wonder if the Chiefs would have made the pick if Hunt’s father, the late-and-revered Lamar Hunt, was still alive. Somehow I have a feeling the elder Hunt would have said, “thanks, but no thanks.”

The Chiefs are putting their reputation on the line, especially with their fervent fan base. If these four players make the team and turn out to be squeaky clean during their careers, great. If one or more slip up and return to their old ways, I can’t see anyone giving them a third chance.


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