I saw LeRoy Hill being carted off the practice field last Tuesday and thought nothing of it, really, because players are frequently hauled to the locker room and return the next day.
But when it was announced that a sprained knee would sideline Hill for a few weeks, it occurred to me that this small development could lead to a much bigger one -- that the former All-Pro linebacker will never play for the Seahawks again.
He's already been suspended for the first game this season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy after he was found with marijuana in his car in January of 2009.
I wrote about that incident at the time because of the unusual details -- at 4 in the morning in Lithia Springs, Ga., a motorist behind Hill at a traffic light called 911 and reported that the person in front of her was asleep at the wheel.
The motorist said she sat behind Hill in the left-turn lane and waited as the light kept turning. "It changed multiple times," she told me in a phone interview.
Officer Joshua Skinnner from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Douglasville, Ga., responded to the call and noticed the smell of marijuana coming from Hill's car. During a search of the car, a 1975 Buick Electra, Skinner found two bags of pot.
Hill issued a statement through the Seahawks and said: "I am embarrassed by the incident and the poor judgment I showed. Please understand my actions were not consistent with the type of person I hope to become."
In and of itself, the incident was no big deal. But it got a lot more problematic for Hill last April after two more 911 calls to police, this time in Issaquah after a dispute with his girlfriend.
Hill has been charged with misdemeanor assault. He will be in the courtroom for a hearing on Friday, and the trial could start next week. Hill is already on probation for misdemeanor drug possession in Georgia. If found guilty on the assault charge, Hill will face a longer suspension and further legal ramifications for violating his probation.
The police report shows drastically conflicting takes on what happened during a disturbance on the evening of April 10 at Hill's home. Hill and his girlfriend both called 911. Hill told the arresting officer that there was no physical contact. In the report, he said that he did not want things to get physical, and that's why he called police. He said that he was playing things safe.
The argument started over Hill's alleged infidelity. In the report, his girlfriend said she wanted to look at Hill's phone to see if he had been talking to other women.
Hill would not unlock his phone, and she gave it back to him and used her phone to call her mother, she said. In the report, she said that as she was talking to her mom, Hill became agitated. As she tried to go upstairs to get away from him, Hill grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her back down the stairs, she told police.
They pushed each other in the foyer, causing a lamp to break. As she tried to go up the stairs again, Hill grabbed and scratched at her arm, she said.
.In the report, she said that when she was standing at the top of the stairs, Hill pushed her, causing her to fall and land on her back at the bottom of the stairs.
After he was handcuffed and taken to the patrol car, Hill said: "That's it, just based on her words, I get arrested."
Hill's girlfriend also told the arresting officer that there had been another incident in December in which Hill took her computer and pulled it in half and held her on her bed, placing his hands around her neck. She said that he crushed her throat as he did this.
While the Seahawks prepare for their season opener Sept. 12 against the 49ers, the team's onetime franchise player will be in a training room and courtroom. Also needing to be sorted out is whether a no-contact order between Hill and his girlfriend was violated.
If Hill is found guilty, the Seahawks should cut him loose and not wait for the commissioner's ruling.
No one, not even the most passionate Seahawks fan, would want a player on the team who is guilty of domestic violence. Then again, if he's found not guilty, welcome him back and hope that he'll only make headlines on the field from now on.