Ike Hilliard was a NFL wide receiver from 1997 to 2008, playing for the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hilliard played college football for three years at the University of Florida (1994-1996). In those three years, his Gators won three SEC Championships, and after losing bowl games in his first two seasons, Hilliard helped the Gators will their first ever National Championship as a junior. Hilliard also thrived individually that year, reeling in over 1,000 receiving yards and earning a spot as a First Team All-American.
After his legendary junior year, Hilliard decided to forgo his senior year and enter the 1997 NFL Draft, where he was selected 7th overall by the New York Giants. After playing sparingly his rookie season, he became an integral part of the Giants’ offense in the next four seasons. In those seasons (1998-2001), he started 56 games and caught 230 passes for 3,157 yards and 19 touchdowns. Hilliard’s most memorable game in this four-year stretch was the 2000 NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings. In front of a rowdy home crowd, Hilliard caught ten passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Giants rout the Vikings 41-0, and clinch their first Super Bowl berth since the 1990-91 season. While Hilliard and the Giants could not get much offense going the Super Bowl, he could hold his head high, as he became one of QB Kerry Collins’ most trusted targets.
Hilliard stuck around with the Giants until 2004. He then signed with the Buccaneers, and played there for four seasons. He started in only one of those seasons, 2007, and had over 700 receiving yards that year. The next season, he put up mild numbers off the bench, and was forced to retire at the end of the season due to a neck injury.
After his retirement, Hilliard became the wide receivers coach for the UFL’s Florida Tuskers. He then became an NFL wide receivers coach, working for the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills (where he currently works.)
If you’ve ever looked at the bottom of one of my articles, you would know that Hilliard is one of my favorite players ever. As a kid growing up with the initials I.H., there were very few people with my initials, and I felt an instant connection to anyone who had them. So when my dad told me that there was a player on the Giants named Ike Hilliard, I was hooked, and never looked back. Ike Hilliard is the reason I became a Giants fan, which is why I became a huge sports fan, and is most likely responsible for all of the sports writing I have done. So thank you Ike Hilliard for unintentionally helping me discover my passion for watching, reading, writing, and playing fantasy sports.