Hill played the last two years of his NFL career with the Falcons (1992-93), right around the time I became a fan.
Former Oilers' Star Drew Hill Passes Away
Updated: Saturday, 19 Mar 2011, 12:53 PM CDT
Published : Saturday, 19 Mar 2011, 12:16 PM CDT
* MARK BERMAN
HOUSTON - Former Houston Oilers receiver Drew Hill passed away early Saturday in a hospital in Atlanta, Ga. at the age of 54.
Hill played with the Los Angeles Rams, Oilers and Atlanta Falcons in a career that spanned 14 years, from 1979 to 1993.
Hill was with the Oilers for seven years, twice making the Pro Bowl (1988, 1990).
During his stint in Houston he played in 106 games, starting 104.
With the Oilers Hill caught 480 passes for 7477 and 47 touchdowns and was a key figure in the Oilers'high-powered run-and-shoot offense.
During his career Hill 634 passes for 9831 yards and 60 touchdowns.
One of Hill's closest friends is former Oilers receiver Haywood Jeffires, who played with Hill in Houston for five years.
"Drew went in for some tests and after he went home he suffered a stroke and then he suffered another stroke at the hospital," Jeffires said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.
"This is devastating. "Drew and I are close friends and the past few days have been very tough. He and I were talking just two weeks ago about playing golf and he told me then he wasn't feeling good. We all know we are going to die at some point, but when it happens to someone you're close to it really hurts."
Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who played with Hill for seven years in Houston, told FOX 26 Sports his friend's spirit will live on in Canton, Ohio because of the role Hill played in Moon's career,
"Drew Hill is a huge part of my success and I'm so glad he was able to be at my Hall of Fame induction," Moon said. "It just made it that much more special.
"There's no question he was a big part of it and there's a part of him that will be in the Hall of Fame with me."
Moon said Hill was a terrific player, who didn't need to be treated like a star.
"He was never one of those guys that demanded the football, that wanted a lot of notoriety," Moon said. "He just went out and did his job every day.
"One of the things I really respected about him was the guy came to practice and practiced as hard as anybody every day and he gave me everything he had on the football field and that's one of the reasons I had such a comfort level with him, because I got from him in practice what I was going to get in the game and rarely do you find receivers like that.
"I knew he was going to beat his guy one-on-one or I knew he would get open and find the hole in the zone and we usually connected in those situations. He was a big-play receiver that I just loved throwing the footballl too."
Moon said the news about Hill hit him "like a ton of bricks."
Clearly Hill left a lasting impression on all of his former teammates.
"When I first came in it hit me that I knew the name, but you couldn't put the athlete with the body, said former Oilers safety Bubba Mcdowell, who now coaches the safeties with Prairie View A&M.
"To see Drew do the things he did in the run-and-shoot, it gave me a whole different look at an athlete who could do so many things and to be that small."
McDowell became aware of Hill's situation on Thursday and remains stunned at the news.
"It's a sad day to be so young and it's a scary day," McDowell said. "Drew did so much to help us make the playoffs and then we became good friends outside of that."
Former Oilers fullback Alonzo Highsmith, who is now a scout with the Green Bay Packers echoes McDowell's thoughts.
"When I first got with the Oilers, the first person I called my friends about was Drew," Highsmith said. "I told my friends he ran very smooth routes and he was fast for an old guy."
Highsmith laughed when he said that because he knows Hill would have laughed as well.
"Drew was a very fun-loving guy, very humble, didn't bring a lot of attention to himself and had a great personality," said Highsmith
Highsmith had been with Hill as recently as December and they tried to get together at the Super Bowl in Dallas, but the weather got in the way.
"In Atlanta before Christmas we went to dinner and talked about the old times," Highsmith said. "I loved to be around Drew."
Like McDowell, Highsmith said the news is not only sad, but it also scared him and with good reason.
"I had a couple of friends die of heart attacks when I was weighing 294 pounds," Highsmith said. "I am back down to 237.
"When things like this happens it reminds us that we are not invincible."
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.