Monday, March 1, 2021

Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill betting on himself ahead of Super Bowl 2021

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Tyreek Hill isn’t going to play. Sorry. Maybe there was a time when he would have. Maybe he used to be an easy mark for this kind of Supe-Week silliness. Just not now. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Scotty “Scooter” Miller of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thinks he’s the fastest man in the NFL. Before last Sunday, there weren’t a lot of people who could’ve picked Scotty Miller out of a lineup, but then the Green Bay Packers forgot to cover him, he slipped behind the defense, and Tom Brady hit him in stride with a 39-yard touchdown pass one second before halftime of the NFC Championship game.

Couple days later Miller, with all of 46 career receptions to his name, was asked by Dan Patrick on his radio show how he’d “line up” against Hill, the Chiefs’ blinding receiver, whose nickname is “Cheetah” and who is the most dynamic non-quarterbacking playmaker in the NFL right now.

“Oh,” Scooter chirped, “I’m taking me every day of the week.

He played at three colleges, getting bounced out of Oklahoma State after a domestic-violence charge, and so he was a fifth-round pick in 2016 and was probably lucky not to go undrafted entirely.

There were 17 wide receivers who went before him in that draft, in which he was the 155th selection overall. Those include three legit first-round busts (Corey Coleman, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell), one injury-prone receiver who’s not far away from Bustville (Will Fuller), one legit star and one potential star (Michael Thomas and Sterling Shepard) and one fellow member of the Chiefs’ receiving corps (Demarcus Robinson, picked 29 slots ahead of him).

Tyreek HillGetty Images

If this isn’t exactly Tom Brady brooding for years — and still simmering — over all the quarterbacks and other slap-dash failures among the 198 picked before him in the 2000 draft, it has still provided Hill with a fuel that has ignited an electrifying career in Kansas City, where he is now perhaps the league’s most uncoverable offensive threat.

By acclimation.

Well. Almost.

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Asked about Miller on Monday, the first day of Super Bowl player availability, Hill laughed.

“I don’t know,” he said. “In my heart no one can keep up with me.”

He admitted: “I admire [Miller’s] confidence. You have to be confident like that.” Then said, again accompanied with a chuckle: “After the season, me and Scotty can discuss whatever race he wants to be a part of. Right now, the primary focus is just winning this game.”

Hill, of course, not only has the faster recorded time in the 40 (4.29 to 4.39), he is the more accomplished player, who this year had seven different scoring plays of 75 yards or more and who, in a game against Miller’s vaunted teammates on the Tampa defense back on Nov. 29 accumulated 203 receiving yards and two touchdowns … in the first quarter.

More important, Hill has developed a reputation for being able to rise to a moment, to make a play when the Chiefs most need a play made.

And, of course, there have been a litany of other head-shaking plays along the way.

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“That’s the swagger about us,” Hill said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in there. If Patrick goes down, if I go down or if [Travis] Kelce goes down, the coaches are still going to dial it up and expect you to make a play. On this team, when you need to, you have to make a play.”

It helps to have the tools in Hill’s toolbox to make those plays. And even now — when he can laugh off a challenge from a chatty rival, when he has declared himself “done” with “racing” — “I have nothing left to prove when it comes to speed,” he said a few months ago — that speed … well, it does come in handy.

“When it comes down to it,” he said, “just run fast. If I run fast I’ll either be open or I’ll draw a double team and someone else will be open. If I’m running fast, it will all work out.”

Translation: he’ll take himself over anybody. Even a guy named Scooter.

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