It has become a sad story in Seattle that keeps repeating itself. Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill has once again found himself in trouble with the law after being arrested on two counts of alleged domestic abuse.
As Danny O'Neil of The Seattle Times reported earlier this week, this is not Hill's first arrest, but the story is still quite disturbing:
Officers were summoned to Hill's home on Tuesday afternoon about 4 p.m., according to a statement from the Issaquah Police. They were called by a woman who identified herself as Hill's girlfriend. She said she was assaulted by Hill and held against her will. She also stated Hill had taken her cellphone, according to police, and she left the home when he went to the bathroom.
Upon reading the details, my initial gut reaction was that the 'Hawks need to cut all ties with the linebacker immediately, especially in light of his past history of issues.
Yet after giving it some thought, I began to wonder whether the team needs to actually become more involved in helping Hill once the police and justice system sort through the incident.
For now, though, it seems the King County Prosecutor's office is still trying to make sense of the situation themselves, as reported by Eric Williams of thenewstribune.com on Friday:
The King County Prosecutor’s office will not file charges today regarding the domestic dispute Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill was allegedly involved in this week.
However, the investigation remains ongoing, and a decision on whether Hill will be charged will be made at a later date, according to Dan Donohoe, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s office.
Hill posted bail, which was set at $150,000, on Thursday and was released at about 7:45 p.m. yesterday.
Quite frankly, as is often the case with Hill, the details are confusing and difficult to judge, but for whatever reason he keeps running into trouble.
It begs the question of what exactly can or could the Seahawks have done for Hill?
A little less than a year ago I thought Hill would be cut loose by the Seahawks following an arrest for marijuana possession, but soon after the charges were dismissed he was eventually re-signed by the team to a one-year deal. Given the chance to play again, Hill turned in a solid season for the 'Hawks, yet it is hard to say whether the team's top brass would invite him back in 2013 even before Wednesday's arrest.
Assuming this is the final straw for Hill with the Seahawks, the only organization he has played for during his NFL career, then what's next if he manages to avoid going to jail?
Beyond football, I seriously believe that the man needs help, especially when you take into account that his incidents always seem to happen during the offseason.
To take that thought a step further, I can't help but wonder how Hill's life will take shape after his playing career ends; I have serious doubts that his story will have a happy ending.
In the same breath, there is still time. Time to change the script.
Yet even a grisly murder-suicide that happened only a few weeks ago involving a NFL player soon got swept under the rug once the initial shock had passed.
Back in December, you may recall the story of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and the mother of his infant child before committing suicide in front of the team's top brass. Granted, this is an extreme example of what could possibly go wrong, but if the accusations against Hill in this particular case are indeed true, it's scary to contemplate what could have happened if his girlfriend had not escaped.
At the end of the day, whether you love him, loathe him or find yourself stuck somewhere in the middle still looking for answers, it's hard to argue against the fact that Leroy Hill needs serious help as a man functioning in the real world before becoming another sad statistic or "tragic story" on SportsCenter.
Will the NFL change the culture?
While it's doubtful that the Seahawks or the NFL is going to treat this case any differently than those that proceeded it, who or what exactly is going to prevent something awful from happening to Hill and / or the people around him?
Perhaps the biggest problem is how do you tackle Leroy Hill's issues as one man rather than simply trying to categorize his case in bold face terms like domestic violence, concussions, drugs, player safety, etc. The NFL has all of these issues staring them square in the face as evidence mounts against them.
Yet at the same time, it seems keen on either offering lip-service to them or ignoring them entirely.
The media can write all they want about these problems, but the appeal of the game itself is far too strong at the moment to slow down the machinery.
The fact is, whether you agree with anything said here or not, you will in all likelihood forget about it once the Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday.
Understand, though, I'm not here to make apologies for Hill. If he's guilty it's up to the justice system to deal with him accordingly, but guilty or not, once again the question remains...what's next?
Whether it's five, 10, 15 or 20 years from now at the rate things are progressing, chances are a player you know—someone you cheered for—may find themselves lost in a world that seemingly forgot them while dealing with a slew of sociological, economic and/or physical issues that are beyond repair.
One can only hope that at some point soon someone truly capable of helping will step up to make meaningful changes and make the effort to connect the dots to improve the long-term health of the league and its players.
The clues are there; it's simply a matter of time and effort to make sense of it all. If not, expect to see many a familiar face in the news for all the wrong reasons.
For now, though, Leroy Hill's story is certainly disturbing and a bit confusing, but not quite tragic. Fingers crossed that he gets the help he needs before it's too late rather than hurting himself or anyone else.