Giants’ safety Will Hill learned firsthand that the fame and fortune that comes with being a professional athlete isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be.
Whenever he’d return to his old stomping grounds for a visit, it seemed that if one social pressure wasn’t pulling at Hill, it was another. Those pressures ultimately led him to find a coping mechanism through marijuana, the substance for which he tested positive in an NFL-administered drug screening last year.
“Everyone was reaching their hand out thinking I’m an ATM, and people who think you owe them something,” Hill said during a candid ten-minute interview with the media today. “It was just a situation where I was visiting back to my hometown and a guy pulled a shotgun on me right then and wanted money. How do you deal with those situations? I really can’t so I dealt with it the best way I knew how.”
When Hill, who will need to serve a four-game suspension starting with week one of the regular season, learned of his fate, he said that the Giants organization threw its support behind him in trying to appeal the ruling.
Ultimately, though, the league’s decision stood, the result being another black eye for the talented second-year safety out of Florida who last year served a four-game suspension after testing positive for Adderall, which falls under the league’s Performance Enhancement Drug policy.
Still, the Giants were determined to try to help Hill battle his demons. The team spoke to him about entering a rehab center in Boston, which Hill attended as an inpatient for about a month, starting with this past Easter.
“It wasn’t forced upon me,” he said of the first step in his rehab. “They asked me if I wanted to go and I did. I definitely wanted to get away from here for one. The stressful situations didn’t go out there, (with me), and learn a thing or two.”
The team also assured hill that he wasn’t about to lose an opportunity to earn a spot on the roster this summer because of his second suspicion in as many years.
“I talked to the team and they just told me to keep on moving forward, keep being positive. Just take the suspension and leave it at that and don’t have any more mishaps.”
Still, being away from the team when it began its offseason program was hard for Hill, who had a promising rookie season.
“It impacted me a lot because I wasn’t able to get around the team in the spring like I wanted to,” he said. “I had a lot of team support so it was also keeping in contact with me, helping me out, especially when I got back. But it damages a lot because as a young player, you want to get out there as much as you can and showcase as much as you can.”
These days, Hill said he still receives counseling as an outpatient at a treatment center in Parsippany, NJ, an experience he said has helped reshape his life.
“I met a lot of people there, a lot of friends,” he said. “A couple therapists that are on my team have helped me out with situations like that. There are a lot of people who have worse issues than I have, and (they) made me feel a lot better.”
These days, Hill is focused on putting his demons firmly behind him and focusing on contributing to the Giants defense. Hill has worked at safety with both the second and third teams, and he said that in yesterday’s practice, he took about 11 reps, about 12 fewer than what the starters got.
For now, Hill plans to do as much as he can before he’s required to step away from the team so that when he returns, he’s ready to pick up where he left off.
“It’s going to be hard, but I wouldn’t say it’s going to b e a total distraction or what I need to do for this team,” he said. “I know all the plays, I know everything. I just have to keep repping at it. I would love to be out there to help this team and organization win, it’s just I have to root from the sidelines.”