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Taysom Hill's selflessness, versatility have helped lead way for New Orleans Saints

'I'm just a football player, and there have been some unique things that I've been able to do'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Chicago Bears in Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Chicago Bears in Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season.

Understandably, this has grown to mythological proportions.

Taysom Hill hasn't conversed with animals, transported from one destination to another or foretold futures.


But what was done by the New Orleans Saints player – "player" being the operative word, because he possibly is as position-less as any player in NFL history has been – when he caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr in the Saints' 24-17 victory over Chicago on Sunday, was this: He joined a list of football legends whose careers ended 59, 68, 89 and 94 years ago.

Hill's catch was the 10th touchdown reception of his career. Coupled with his 26 touchdown runs and 11 touchdown passes, he became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 10 rushing, receiving and passing touchdowns in his career, joining Frank Gifford (34 rushing, 43 receiving and 14 passing, from 1952-64), Charley Trippi (23-11-16, from 1957-55), Red Grange (21-10-10, from 1925-34) and Jimmy Conzelman (13-11-10, from 1920-29).

Hill will look to add to his history-making numbers Sunday, when the Saints (5-4) play the Vikings (5-4) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"That's the uniqueness of Taysom Hill," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said. "In modern-era football, at least in the last 20 to 30 years, I can't really think of anybody that's really been able to do as many different things as he's able to do."

"Everybody talks about what he does on offense, and yet, how about what he does on special teams? From a punt perspective, we see a lot of different things from a punt perspective just by the simple fact that he stands back there behind the long snapper. There's a lot of things that people have to take into account and have to defend, the fact that he's out there. Every time he's on the field he's affecting the game in some form or fashion."

"He's unique. There's not a lot of guys that are built to do the things that he's able to do. There's just not. There's been a lot of guys that are fast and athletic, but to have the combination of size, speed, athleticism, power – it's unique."

In addition to the offensive numbers, Hill has covered kickoffs, returned kickoffs, rushed punts (two blocks), served as punt protector, and played running back and tight end. But the celebrity and production that have come with the multiplicity haven't seeped below his surface.

"I'm just here to play football and help us win games," Hill said. "Truthfully, I don't get too caught up in any of the statistics or any of that stuff. I'm just grateful to be here and be part of the organization, and have these opportunities.

"I'm just a football player, and there have been some unique things that I've been able to do. I recognize that. But I really don't get too caught up in that other stuff."

Hill's combination of size – listed at 6 feet 2, 221 pounds – and speed, coupled with a ruggedness makes him a nightmare runner once he reaches the hole at the line of scrimmage.

He'll run past a defender. He'll run over a defender. He'll hurdle a defender. And with his improved receiving skills, he added another element to the Saints' offense.

When Hill scored produced two touchdowns against the Bears (one receiving, one passing), it was the second straight week he produced two touchdowns (two runs against the Colts).

Few players can relate to his versatility better than Kordell Stewart, the Marrero, La., native who earned the nickname "Slash" in the NFL, as he played quarterback and receiver for the Steelers from 1995-2002, and started at quarterback from 1997-02.

Stewart, too, produced numbers that never may be duplicated: 70 passing touchdowns, 35 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns.

"Taysom's a force to be reckoned with, especially if they can use him properly," said Stewart, who compiled a 46-29 record as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. "That's something that you have to contest on a consistent basis as a defensive coordinator, with the ability of making the throws that he's able to make, with the run – the speed and the surge – along with the ability to catch, it can impose serious problem on defenses. Because who's going to be able to cover all that. That's the game of football.

"Multiple positions on the field, in the league, unless you have that talent you're not going to be able to do it. It's all about the creativity of the coordinator. The game isn't as traditional as it was back in the day, to where when you played quarterback, you just played quarterback. If you were too athletic, you couldn't play quarterback. If you had the speed, you had to play a skill position.

"Now, you're starting to see that position – the quarterback position – holistically change because you're seeing more kids come out of high school going into college, and these college coaches who are coaching that brand of football, then they elevate to the National Football League where you have a number of coaches who are capable of identifying that talent and then put it out on the field. So you have to have the ability, and Taysom has the ability."

That ability has produced 2,337 passing yards, 2,013 rushing yards, 607 receiving yards and 429 kickoff return yards. Hill's willingness to do whatever is asked always has made the 33-year-old a favorite in the locker room, and has sound reasoning behind it.

"I think the nature of my career – I had four season-ending injuries in college (at BYU), and not really knowing what really to expect coming into the NFL – I think my mind-set was to take advantage of every opportunity that I had," he said. "So when you talk about this stuff, my answer is, I feel extremely grateful to be where I'm at. I know that there's guys that just don't get those opportunities, and I did have those opportunities."

Because of Hill, more will have those chances. The NFL is a copycat league, and teams have sought to find their own Taysom Hill.

"That's a cool thing," he said. "I think you look at the guys that have played historically, and added so much to the game, we've all been able to benefit from them. I think it's a fun thing to think about other guys having unique opportunities because of what I've been able to do in the NFL.

"So that is a fun thing to think about. Hopefully, it creates opportunities for guys that wouldn't get opportunities otherwise."

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