During the Arrowhead Pride Editors Show podcast on Tuesday, Pete Sweeney and I spent a moment marveling about the fact the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is beginning his fifth season with the team. It seems like it’s been a lot less time than that.
A similar situation exists with Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is now starting his sixth NFL season. Has it really been that long since the newly-minted fifth-round draft pick gained 1,836 all-purpose yards (and scored 12 touchdowns) while only starting one game during his rookie season?
Part of it is that when he speaks, the brash young man still shows his age — like after Friday’s Chiefs training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph when he spoke about his latest Twitter speed argument. This one is with Usain Bolt, who has held the world record in the 100-meter dash since Hill was a teenager.
“Usain Bolt got out of the game for a reason, right?” argued Hill. “He’s old. He’s washed up. And he can’t see me at 40 yards. 100-yard dash? Yes. That’s what he does. But 40-yard dash? Usain Bolt, you cannot see me.”
Or when it was announced on Monday that in the Madden 22 video game, Hill would have an overall rating of 98 — one less than the maximum of 99.
“That’s one step closer to where I want to be,” Hill told ESPN.
Or on Friday, when a reporter began asking Hill about a play in that morning’s practice, in which Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed had kept up with him, leading to an incomplete.
Hill started repeatedly saying, “Hold on, hold on, hold on” over the question until reporters in the tent broke out with laughter.
But then again...
Right after calling the world’s fastest man “washed up,” Hill adopted a different tone when asked about a possible race with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
“If Usain Bolt calls you out, you’ve got to go at Usain first,” said Hill. “You know what I’m saying? Once you knock him out, that’s when you start thinking about the other options.”
Even then, Hill didn’t miss a chance to show respect for Metcalf, who went to the U.S. Olympic trials in May, hoping to make the team as a 100-meter sprinter.
“I think that’s huge,” Hill said of Metcalf’s tryout. “I feel like he took another step. I really think that’s great for him. As far as other NFL players, I think we should be competing. We’re not always going to be young — as fast and energetic — so I think he really set the standard.”
And when asked about his Madden rating, Hill wanted to give credit to other Chiefs players, saying that EA Sports is trying to keep the Chiefs from being too dominant in the game, in which two other Kansas City players — Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce — also have 99 ratings.
“I really believe they don’t want three 99s on this team,” said Hill. “In my heart, I truly believe that we should have four. Tyrann Mathieu should have been a 99 as well.”
And when he finally got around to answering the question about Sneed, Hill still said that the second-year cornerback “couldn’t keep up” with him. But then he wanted to explain that playing football isn't always about straight-line speed.
“L’Jarius Sneed is a great player,” said Hill. “I love competing against him every day. He has long arms. I believe he ran a 4.3 at the combine. So for me to sit here and just [ask], ‘Can he keep up with me?’ it’s just football at the end of the day.
“You see guys all across the league who run 4.2s — and you see other defensive backs who run 4.5s who can keep up with them. So when it comes down to playing football, man, you’ve got to know releases, technique... you've got to know the fundamentals about the game. You can't just be like any fast guy.”
So while his occasional brashness may still sometimes make Hill seem like he is still a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, he’s clearly grown as a player — and as a man.
“Every offseason, my kids, my family are like, ‘Hey, man. You just got done with a long season,” he told reporters. “And we don’t want to see you go run track — or whatever. We want to spend time with you now.’ So I’m like, dedicating my time to my kids — going to AAU games with my son; I’m training my son. I’m with my fiancee here and there. I’m just dedicating my time to my family.”
Hill says he learned it all from his teammates.
“Each and every day, I come to practice — and I feel like my teammates set the standard for me. Whether it’s Kelce, whether it’s Pat, whether it’s the other wideouts or whether it’s [the guys on] the defensive side of the ball, those guys are always competing. Those guys are always wanting to get better — and always wanting to take the next step in their game.
“So why wouldn’t I want to do the same?”