The Kansas City Chiefs suspended Tyreek Hill indefinitely on Friday following the emergence of a leaked audio tape in which he discusses assaulting his infant son.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said the team had barred Hill from all team activities until further notice after the recording was aired in US media on Thursday.
In the tape, a man believed to be Hill talks about striking his three-year-old son after being challenged by his fiancee Crystal Espinal.
“We were deeply disturbed by what we heard,” Veach said. “We were deeply concerned. Now, obviously, we have great concern for Crystal. We are greatly concerned for Tyreek.
“But our main focus, our main concern, is with the young child.”
The leak of the tape on Thursday came 24 hours after prosecutors in Kansas City said Hill would not face charges over the alleged abuse of his son, who was left with a broken arm following the incident.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s office said although investigators were certain a crime had occurred, they could not determine whether it was Hill or Espinal who were responsible.
In the audio tape released on Thursday, Espinal confronts Hill over his alleged abuse, saying that when she asked the child what had happened he replied: “Daddy did it.”
Hill is heard to reply: “He says Daddy does a lot of things.”
Espinal responds by telling Hill: “A three-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm…He is terrified of you.”
Hill replies: “You need to be to terrified of me too, bitch.”
Later in the recording, Espinal confronts Hill about other incidents.
“He kept saying ‘Daddy punches me,’ which you do when he starts crying. What do you do? You make him open up his arms, and you punch him in the chest. Then if he gets in trouble, you get the belt out,” she says.
Hill and Espinal’s son has been removed from the couple’s custody by local authorities.
While Hill has so far avoided criminal prosecution, he may yet face sanctions from the NFL, which has a lower burden of proof for breaches of its personal conduct policy.
Hill, one of the Chiefs star players, has a history of violent outbursts.
In 2014, he reportedly punched and choked his partner Espinal when she was eight weeks pregnant with the couple’s son. He was arrested and later kicked off the Oklahoma State University football team.
He later received three years probation after admitting domestic assault and battery in 2015.
Several commentators reacted to Thursday’s leaked audiotape by stating he should be banned if its contents were genuine.
“A three-year-old doesn’t belong in a hospital or the court system because of his father,” USA Today columnist Nancy Armour wrote.
“And if that turns out to be the case, Hill no longer belongs in the NFL.”